Thinking Anglicans

Binding the church…

Ekklesia has published a paper written by Savitri Hensman and titled Binding the church and constraining God. Here is the abstract:

In a paper carefully analysing the popular use and misuse of biblical and doctrinal language about God and Church, Savitri Hensman shows that inflexible, one-sided, naïve or ideological conceptions of God in sections of the Christian tradition can reinforce domineering models and practices in the Church – which is in fact supposed to be a creative vehicle of Jesus’ broken body in the world, not a defensive fortress. God is not confined by rules set by humans and our institutions, she argues, however powerful they may be by earthly standards. In the biblical tradition, God is at work outside as well as within institutions, including those that claim to be about God’s business. Liberation, reformation and healing will continue to happen even if, at first, they are not acknowledged by the authorities (ecclesial and otherwise); and in time truth will break through our illusions. This paper is highly relevant to issues being discussed in and beyond Anglicanism, concerning its disputed future, and in other sections of the worldwide Church. It makes specific reference to the debate about an Anglican Covenant in the run-up to the Lambeth Conference 2008. It may also give those outside the Church a better understanding of how language and tradition is being applied and misapplied within very diverse Christian communities during a time of considerable upheaval and anxiety, both inside and outside the Church.

Read the whole paper here.


firestorm: the Economist weighs in

Updated Monday afternoon

The Economist has a brief news item: The gathering storm and then a leader, headed Church and state Sever them.

The news item concludes rather interestingly with these paragraphs:

…Schism has been looming over Anglicanism since 2003, when American liberals ordained a gay bishop, Gene Robinson. And—a sign of how far apart the camps are—the conservatives’ worry is not that Lambeth will endorse homosexual relations among the clergy or anybody else; it is rather that decisions there will not provide clearly enough for the expulsion of churches which stray in a liberal direction.

In the latest move, Drexel Gomez, the conservative Archbishop of the West Indies, has started drafting a compromise that would allow old-timers to attend the Lambeth meeting, on the understanding that proper arrangements will be made for disciplining gay-friendly liberals. To people who are neither Christian nor Muslim, it must all sound a bit like sharia law.

The leader draws this conclusion from it all:

…Faced with this anomaly, the archbishop proposes to expand the privileges of all religions. It would be better instead to curtail the entitlements of his one. It makes no sense in a pluralistic society to give one church special status. Nor does it make sense, in a largely secular country, to give special status to all faiths. The point of democracies is that the public arena is open to all groups—religious, humanist or football fans. The quality of the argument, not the quality of the access to power, is what matters. And citizens, not theocrats, choose.

Cut it free
Disestablishing the Church of England does not mean that it has no public role to play. America’s founders said there should be no established religion, but religion shapes public debate to a degree that many in Europe find incomprehensible. Let religion compete in the marketplace for ideas, not seek shelter behind special privileges. One law for all, with its enlightened insistence on tolerance and free speech, is not a “bit of a danger”. It is what underwrites the ability of all religions to go about their business unhindered.

Ekklesia which had already expressed a view on this in Disestablishment may be back on the agenda as church feels pressure has now commented directly on the Economist response in The Economist calls for cutting the cord that binds church and state.

And Simon Barrow wrote about Giving up Establishment for Lent.

Here is a link to the BBC Sunday item (7 minutes audio):

Controversy has surrounded the comments Rowan Williams recently made about Sharia. The religious think tank Ekklesia has now weighed into the debate with the suggestion that the Archbishop’s speech demonstrates the need for the disestablishment of the Church of England. Jonathan Bartley, the co-director of Ekklesia, and the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, gave their views.


opinions after General Synod

Terry Philpot writes about Catholic care homes in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Usama Hasan writes in The Times about What is Sharia?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that the Democrats now do God.

Christopher Howse following the archbishop’s lead tells more Ronald Knox jokes in When Islam and the C of E unite.

Craig Brown tries to be amusing in Dr Rowan Williams’ ‘Cat Sat On The Mat’.

And for a real contrast to that, try the sermon given by Rowan Williams at the memorial service for Charlie Moule last weekend.


church press on the firestorm

Both the Church Times and the Tablet have multiple articles on this topic. Unfortunately several are not available at present except to subscribers. When more becomes available, we will publish links.

Meanwhile, here is what you can read:

Church Times Lambeth endures protests and Page 3 girls in sharia row by Rachel Harden
Synod welcomes Dr Williams’s robust defence by Pat Ashworth and Margaret Duggan
Church Times leader: First, they came for the Muslims

Quiet voice of modernity’s enemy by Theo Hobson
Tablet editorial: Crisis of identity


five primates respond to 21 English bishops

The primates of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and the Southern Cone have issued a public response to the letter they were sent signed by 21 English evangelical bishops.

The full text of the response is here: GAFCON Response to Evangelical English Bishops. Part of it reads:

… You will know that some of us have not been able to take communion with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church since February 2005, – a period of about three years. The reason is that TEC took an action to consecrate Gene Robinson as Bishop in 2003 contrary to the resolution of the Lambeth Conference, an action of which they have not repented. The consecrators of Gene Robinson have all been invited to Lambeth, contrary to the statement of the Windsor Report (para 134) that members of the Episcopal Church should “consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion”.

You will know that some of those who objected to this consecration in the United States and have made arrangements for orthodox oversight from other provinces including ours have been charged with abandonment of communion. Their congregations have either forfeited or are being sued for their properties by the very bishops with whom you wish us to share Christian family fellowship for three weeks.

To do this is an assault on our consciences and our hearts. Further, how can we explain to our church members, that while we and they are formally out of communion with TEC, and provide oversight to these orthodox colleagues, we at the same time live with them at the Lambeth Conference as though nothing had happened? This would be hypocrisy.

We are also concerned that the invitation list reflects a great imbalance. It fails to address fundamental departures from historic faith that have triggered this crisis and yet excludes bishops of our own provinces, of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda who teach and practice Biblical faith. As constituted, the invitations suggest that institutional structures are superior to the content of the faith itself.

We are also mindful of the press interest in the Conference, and in the presence in some form or other of Gene Robinson and his male partner, and of 30 gay activists. We would be the continual target of activist campaigners and media intrusion. In these circumstances we could not feel at home…


Canadian warnings and departures

First, the Bishop of British Columbia (that’s the diocese next door to New Westminster), James Cowan issued this letter (PDF file) to his diocese on 30 January:

Then, Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster wrote a letter to his diocese on 6 February.

The Anglican Journal reported all this as West Coast bishops warn parishes against separation on 12 February.

The next day, the Primate of the Canadian Church, Archbishop Fred Hiltz also issued a letter, reported also here):

…“I am very concerned that there are a few parishes that may be considering a motion to withdraw from the fellowship of the Anglican Church of Canada, and to place themselves under the jurisdiction of another Province of the Anglican Communion,” he wrote, urging reconsideration.

“It is not necessary for any parish to consider such action. The House of Bishops has designed a model for Shared Episcopal Ministry. This model enables a diocesan Bishop to share his or her Episcopal oversight with another Bishop for parishes finding themselves in conscientious disagreement with the Bishop and Synod over the matter of the blessing of same sex unions.

“With this provision in place there is no need for pastoral interventions by bishops from jurisdictions outside of the Anglican Church of Canada. Such interventions in fact are inappropriate. Indeed the Archbishop of Canterbury in a recent letter to me said he cannot “support or sanction” such actions.

Nevertheless on that same day, members of the parish of St John’s Shaughnessy did just that. The diocese reported it this way: Diocese regrets decision of people to leave Anglican Church of Canada

Results from the Vestry meeting of St. John’s Shaughnessy on February 13 indicate that members of that parish plan to leave the Anglican Church of Canada.

The parish congregation voted to request that Donald Harvey, a retired bishop who left the Anglican Church of Canada in November, give it episcopal oversight, as a bishop in a South American Anglican Church. Harvey’s jurisdiction is not recognized by the Canadian Church or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dean Peter Elliott, speaking for the Diocese while Bishop Michael Ingham is out of the country, said: “We regret the decision of any person to leave our Church.”

Read the whole report here.

Press reports:
Anglican Journal Vancouver church votes to leave Canadian church
Reuters Anglican church split over gays widens in Canada
Toronto Globe & Mail Anglican church seeks oversight from bishop in South America
Vancouver Sun Anglicans vote to split over same-sex blessings


San Joaquin news

There is a further development in relation to the Diocese of San Joaquin (previous report here). ENS reports:

…A steering committee has been appointed to begin to reconstitute the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, while a second priest has been appointed as “interim pastoral presence” in the Central California Valley diocese.
“The steering committee has been formed and there are about 20 people involved,” said the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as an interim pastoral presence late last year.

“It is important for people both inside and outside California to understand that this committee represents a broad spectrum of theological positions,” Moore said. “We are really trying to stay away from designations like liberal and conservative, because it is very important to the Presiding Bishop that it be a representative group of people.”

Moore confirmed that the Rev. Canon Brian Cox, 16-year rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara in the Diocese of Los Angeles, also has been appointed as an interim pastoral presence in San Joaquin.

“He is, by his own description, a well-known conservative and trained in reconciliation work,” Moore said. “The hope is that he will be able to reach out to additional folks. He and I are now beginning a healing kind of reconciliation process,” he added…

Read the full report here. Also the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting this past week, said in a letter that:

…The transformation we have witnessed in the Diocese of Central Ecuador gives us hope in light of the attempt of the Bishop and Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin to remove their diocese from The Episcopal Church and transfer it to another province in the Anglican Communion.

We are deeply concerned for those who are members of The Episcopal Church but now find themselves in parishes or dioceses attempting to depart. To the members of The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, know we stand with you. Your struggles and needs inform our prayers, deliberations, and plans. This is a new and unfamiliar landscape for all of us. We stand with you and commit ourselves to provide pastoral care, to aid in re-organization, and to support legal actions necessary to retain the assets of the diocese for ministry. We will hold clergy leaders accountable to their vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church, and lay leadership accountable to the fiduciary responsibilities of the offices they hold. Up to $500,000 of income from trust funds will be made available in the calendar year 2008 to support the mission work of the Diocese of San Joaquin and similarly situated dioceses…

The full letter text is available as PDF file here.

The Living Church also has a report on this.


Uganda isn't coming to Lambeth either

Updated Thursday evening

Religious Intelligence had this on Tuesday:

Theological convictions, not bruised feelings, will prevent at least three provinces from attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Primate of the West Indies has said.

In an interview with the Nassau Guardian yesterday, West Indian Archbishop Drexel Gomez stated “there are at least four provinces in Africa that have either said they will not attend or are still considering if they will attend, but there are three who said they will definitely not be attending.”

Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda had announced they will not be attending the conference as it is currently organized. Sources in the Anglican Church of Kenya tell us that the Church was to have made a decision at its House of Bishops meeting scheduled for this week. However, the post-election violence has postponed the meeting to April when a decision will be taken…

The Nassau Guardian article itself is here. It also says:

It would be “scandalous” if gay Anglican Bishop Canon V. Gene Robinson appeared at the upcoming Anglican Lambeth Conference in July with his partner, Archbishop Drexel Gomez told The Guardian Monday.

The upcoming conference, held once every 10 years, is expected to see the coming together of a number of Anglican Bishops at the University of Kent in Canterbury. But because of the on-going schism within the Communion as a result of the ordination of Robinson almost six years ago, Gomez said some provinces recently indicated they would not attend the upcoming conclave.

Uganda’s decision is now reported widely in the media:

Religious Intelligence again on Thursday: Uganda to boycott Lambeth

The African Province announced its intention in a statement issued last night by the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, pictured, on the same day the Church of England’s General Synod discussed the content of a Covenant which is being drawn up to try and keep the worldwide Communion together.

The boycott revolves around the Church’s long-running row over homosexuality, which came to the fore after the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, by the Episcopal Church (TEC) of the USA in 2003. In the statement Bishop Orombi writes that Bishop Robinson’s consecration and the TEC’s continued practice of blessing same-sex couples is ‘in flagrant disregard’ of a resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference which described homosexual practice as ‘incompatible with Scripture’.

He added that their non-attendance was a means of expressing their disapproval that American bishops have been invited to the ten-yearly gathering of Primates. He said: “This decision has been made to protest the invitations extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, to TEC Bishops whose stand and unrepentant actions created the current crisis of identity and authority in the Anglican Communion.” He added they planned to meet with other traditionalist bishops at an ‘alternative Lambeth’ called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June, which is expected to be attended by other conservative leaders from Africa and Australia.

Press Association Uganda boycotts Anglican conference

Reuters Ugandan bishops to boycott global Anglican meeting

BBC Uganda boycotts Anglican meeting

The Times Uganda bishops join boycott of Lambeth Conference over gay priests

And Ruth Gledhill has a blog article which links to the actual text of the Uganda statement as an RTF file. I have reproduced it as an html page here.

The decision by Rwanda not to attend goes back to June 2007, see Lambeth invitations: Rwanda not attending.

The decision by Nigeria goes back to May 2007, see Nigeria responds to Minns not being invited and also later, Nigeria: open letter to Canterbury.


Lambeth Conference History

Episcopal Majority has published, in four parts, an essay by Christopher Webber titled Unity and Diversity in the Lambeth Conference.

Read the four parts:
Part I: The Beginning
Part II: Broader Agendas
Part III: Coming to Grips with Unity and Diversity
Part IV: Living Together as a Truly Global Community


synod reports for Thursday

Updated Thursday evening and Friday morning

Official Reports: General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Thursday 14th February 2008 AM
General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Thursday 14th February 2008 PM
These include links to audio recordings of all the items.

Alastair Cutting (a member blogging from the floor of synod)

Church Times
Day four: Thursday

Episcopal Life Online
Synod calls for Guantanamo Bay’s closure, debates detention without charge by Matthew Davies

Church against terror limit moves

The Guardian
Synod warns of terror fears eroding liberty

Church Society
Synod Report Thursday 14th

In the morning Synod debated Crown appointments and agreed to the proposals in paragraph 58 of GS1680 by 290 votes to 16 with 16 recorded abstentions. Synod then debated a following motion calling for the chair of the Crown Nominations Commission, when it is considering the choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to be chosen by the Church’s appointments committee instead of by the Prime Minister as at present. This was defeated by 142 votes to 107 with 20 recorded abstentions.

Synod debated GS1673 Growing Together in Unity and Mission and passed the following motion by 258 votes to 10 with 5 recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, welcoming the work that has been done towards the Agreed Statement of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission and endorsing its stated aim of closer collaboration in unity and mission between our two communions:

(a) note the assessment of the Agreed Statement in GS 1673 as a contribution to the further development of the text and endorse the concerns of the Faith and Order Advisory Group set out in section 4 of GS 1673;

(b) affirm the further growing together in unity and mission will depend on common witness and the exchange of spiritual gifts, as well as clarity between areas where doctrinal agreement has been achieved and areas that require further work; and

(c) encourage Anglicans to implement, with Roman Catholics, the practical initiatives for bishops and people in Part 2 of the Statement;

(d) request that debates take place in Synod on all the documents listed in Appendix 2, Second Phase in Growing Together in Unity and Mission as the next stage in the process.

After lunch Synod debated GS1681 Detention without Charge and passed the following motion by 235 votes to 2 with 7 recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, mindful both of the Christian teaching that enforcement of law should be just in process and outcome, and of the challenge that the advent of suicide attacks poses for the general public and for those who bear responsibility for protecting the public from terrorism:

(a) emphasise the importance of society maintaining a careful balance between the liberty of the individual and the needs of national security;

(b) express grave concern that an extension to the current 28-day maximum period for detention without charge of terrorist suspects would, in the absence of the most compelling arguments, disturb that balance unacceptably;

(c) while welcoming the release of most UK prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, deplore the continued holding of prisoners there without charge or due process and encourage Her Majesty’s Government to continue to use all available means to press the United States administration to close the Guantanamo Bay facility and restore the full application of the rule of law; and

(d) affirm the desirability of an early review by the Government of the restrictions and other obligations that may be imposed on individuals under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the use of undisclosed material in control order proceedings.’

The amendment below was proposed to the above motion but it was defeated on a show of hands.

Leave out paragraph (b) and insert:

“(b) urge Her Majesty’s Government to adopt a more purposive approach to the problem of balancing the need for sufficient investigative time against the need to maintain the liberty of the individual through a process of holding suspects on a weekly basis under the review of a senior High Court Judge;”

This completed Synod’s business for this group of sessions.

1 Comment

what caused the firestorm?

Matt Wardman is quite clear about the answer to this: he blames the BBC. Read Archbishop Rowan Firestorm was Started by the BBC before Interview was even Broadcast (H/T Alan Wilson)

News Sniffer shows you how the BBC’s own web reporting of the story changed over time.

There are others, though, who believe that what Rowan Williams said was wrong. See for example, Christopher Hitchens at Slate in To Hell With the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Theo Hobson has written Rowan Williams: sharia furore, Anglican future at openDemocracy.

And at ourKingdom Simon Barrow’s latest piece in the Sharia Subjects series is The real purpose of the Archbishop.

He also wrote A question of conscience on Comment is free.

More links to other opinions on all this on Ruth Gledhill’s blog at Sharia show shuts down? No it doesn’t. Bad luck Rowan. She includes this from Archbishop Akinola:

‘We have received news of what the Archbishop of Canterbury allegedly said. If it is true that this statement about the inevitability of the introduction of Sharia law into the UK credited to Rowan Williams was actually said by him, it is most disturbing and most unfortunate. With what Christians are going through in Muslim lands around the world, it is unbelievable that any Christian leader – not to talk of an Archbishop – would make such a statement under whatever guise. This matter will be discussed at the next meeting of our House of Bishops.’


+Carlisle speaks

update Thursday morning and afternoon

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd Graham Dow, spoke at the launch today of God, Gays and the Church. He may regret what he said.

Ruth Gledhill in her Times blog Graham Dow: UK Government a ‘Revelation 13’ Govt

Ruth Gledhill in the Times Bishop sees demons in Downing Street

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Brown Government ‘like a demonic beast’

Government like ‘demonic beast’


synod reports for Wednesday

Updated Wednesday night, Thursday morning and Friday morning

Official Reports: General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Wednesday 13th February 2008 AM
General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Wednesday 13th February 2008 PM
These include links to audio recordings of all the items.

Archbishop of Canterbury
contribution to the debate on a Covenant for the Anglican Communion

Church Times
Day three: Wednesday
Synod expresses its grave concern about gambling

Episcopal Life Online
ENGLAND: Synod discusses Anglican covenant; debate draws mixed reactions

Christian Today
Anglican Covenant will unite, not divide – Sentamu by Maria Mackay

Church Society
General Synod Report 13 February 2008

In the afternoon Synod debated eucharistic prayers for children and mental health issues and passed these two motions.

That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commission the expeditious preparation of Eucharistic Prayers suitable for use on occasions when a significant number of children are present or when it is otherwise pastorally appropriate to meet the needs of children present.

That this Synod:
a) affirm the vital necessity of improving services, in hospitals and in the community, for the support, care and treatment of people with mental health problems;
b) welcome the acceptance by Her Majesty’s Government during the passage of the Mental Health Act 2007 of amendments to protect the liberty and interests of those subject to compulsory detention and treatment for mental disorder, and express the hope that the operation of the Act will be carefully monitored;
c) note with concern the rising incidence of mental distress among young people;
d) call attention to the acute needs of people with mental disorders in the criminal justice system and request effective measures to divert them, where appropriate, from prison; and
e) welcome the recognition within mental health services of the significance of spirituality for assessment and treatment, and encourage parishes to ensure that the support and care of people with mental health problems, their carers and NHS staff is a key priority for the Church’s ministry.

The day ended with a general debate on the Anglican Communion Covenant and a vote on the motion ‘That the Synod do take note of this report.’ [where ‘this report’ was this]. The take note motion was carried by 266 votes to 20 with 19 recorded abstentions.


synod reports for Tuesday

updated Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and afternoon and Friday morning

Official reports: General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Tuesday 12th February 2008 AM.
General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Tuesday 12th February 2008 PM
These include links to audio recordings of most of the items.

Church Times
Day two: Tuesday
Terms of service: Synod votes down moving parsonages to dioceses

The Times
Church ‘land grab’ thrown out by synod by Ruth Gledhill
Synod rejects proposals for £4bn vicarage ‘land grab’ by Ruth Gledhill (basically same story as the one above)
Clean up your ‘human pollution’, Archbishop of Canterbury tells gambling trade by Ruth Gledhill

Synod calls on minister to scrap planned casinos by Riazat Butt

Church vows to tackle Bible shortage by Jonathan Petre

Synod rejects vicarage owner plan

Daily Mail
Church tells Brown to ditch plans for Las Vegas style super-casinos

Christian Today
Archbishop of Canterbury slams casinos in Synod debate by Maria Mackay

Church Society
General Synod Report 12 February 2008

Tuesday’s main business was consideration of the clergy terms of service legislation which came back from the revision committee. This is the legislation to introduce common tenure, a uniform set of conditions for all clergy. Synod appeared to have little problem with the general principle, but the proposal to transfer ownership of much clergy housing to new diocesan parsonage boards was strongly opposed and was effectively killed by one amendment. This was carried in each of the three houses of synod by the following votes.


Following this vote the committee responsible for steering the legislation through synod withdrew all the clauses about the ownership of clergy housing and as a result there will be no changes to the current arrangements.

Later Synod debated gambling and casinos and passed the following motion by 258 votes to 4 with 9 recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, gravely concerned that the total national spend on gaming has risen in each year over the past four years from £4 to £40 billion:

a) endorse the public opposition expressed by church leaders to the introduction of regional and large casinos, and encourage local churches to participate in local authority consultations on plans for new casino applications;

b) declare its support for programmes of education, research and treatment undertaken with the aim of checking the growth in problem gambling, and request the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to invoke the powers granted by the Gambling Act 2005 to introduce a statutory levy on the gambling industry to fund such programmes;

c) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to monitor the addictive effects of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and to seek an international framework for a code of conduct on internet gambling; and

d) call upon the Mission and Public Affairs Council to report back to Synod by February 2009 on measures being taken by the churches to combat the detrimental effects of gambling in various forms.

The final item of business was a debate on the availability of bibles in churches at the end of which the following motion was carried overwhelmingly.

That this Synod, believing in the importance of Scripture, desire that anyone entering a church building or attending a church service should have easy and unfettered access one of the versions of the Bible referred to in the note by the House of Bishops on Versions of Scripture dated 9th October 2002 or one of the versions of the Bible that may be used by virtue of the Prayer Book Versions of the Bible Measure, and would request all dioceses to take steps to give effect to this desire in their churches.

* Synod has introduced electronic voting and this allows members to record an abstention as well as a vote in favour or against.


Archbishop of Canterbury appoints Windsor Continuation Group

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the formation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), as proposed in his Advent Letter. The WCG will address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion.

Details on the Anglican Communion News Service.


synod reports for Monday

Updated Tuesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning

Official report : General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Monday 11th February 2008 PM
This includes links to audio recordings of all the items.

Church Times
Day one: Monday
Synod welcomes Dr Williams’s robust defence

Press Association Williams defends sharia law debate
Reuters Williams defends right to raise Islamic law

Williams in synod Sharia address
Archbishop guilty of innocence by Alex Kirby
PM extends support to archbishop by Laura Kuenssberg

Archbishop defends his comments on Sharia law Riazat Butt Paper version: Archbishop defends sharia law remarks but admits his words may have lacked clarity
A very Anglican resurrection by Andrew Brown
Williams, sharia and a mea culpa … of sorts by Stephen Bates
In an age of red-top fury, here is a hero by Giles Fraser
Guardian leader: Wounded and wiser

The Times
Synod backs Archbishop in Sharia controversy by Philippe Naughton and Ruth Gledhill headline now changed to ‘Sorry for any confusion but it is my right and duty to talk about religion and the law’
St Rowan seeks forgiveness for the sin of ‘unclarity’ by Alan Hamilton

Daily Telegraph
Archbishop won’t back down over sharia row by Jonathan Petre
Dr Rowan Williams may suffer lasting damage by Jonathan Petre
Synod fails to cast first stone at Archbishop by Andrew Gimson
Dr Rowan Williams’s gift to Gordon Brown by Rachel Sylvester
Telegraph leader: Dr Rowan Williams’s words were understood

Daily Mail
‘I was right to speak out on sharia law,’ says Archbishop by Steven Doughty
He stood there, hands clasped in front of him, the beard moving roughly in sync with his lips by Quentin Letts

Williams tries to defuse row over sharia law but refuses to apologise by Jonathan Brown
Clumsy maybe, but not sorry by Paul Vallely

Episcopal News Service
Canterbury defends Sharia comments in General Synod address by Matthew Davies

Church Society
General Synod Report 11 February 2008


synod presidential address

The full text of what Rowan Williams said can be found here.

This was preceded by a standing ovation from the members of the synod.

Complete audio recording of this address available here.


Monday morning reports

Riazat Butt in the Guardian has Archbishop tears up script to face critics

And also, Ayesha Khan on Sharia sensibilities

Jonathan Petre in the Daily Telegraph has Synod turns on Rowan Williams in sharia row

And also, here is what Lord Carey said yesterday in the Sunday Telegraph Are we promoting harmony or Muslim ghettos?. Today, Janet Daley has Removing the state from Dr Rowan Williams

Andrew Grice in the Independent says Williams resists calls to resign over sharia row

And Johann Hari has Rowan Williams has shown us one thing – why multiculturalism must be abandoned

See previous TA article for reports in The Times.

The BBC has Williams to face Anglican leaders and also Sharia row persists for Williams and Carey weighs into Sharia law row and later, PM praises archbishop’s integrity

The Press Association has Archbishop ready to defend himself

Reuters says Williams to speak out after storm

Here’s the timetable for today’s General Synod session:

3.15 p.m. to 7 p.m.







And the BBC has this helpful Q&A: The General Synod explained


God, Gays and the Church

Tomorrow in The Times Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correpondent, and Philip Webster, Political Editor report that: Archbishop faces critics on his day of judgment:

An embattled Archbishop of Canterbury will confront anger within the Church of England as, on this most critical day of his five years in office, he tries to justify his remarks about Islamic law.

Dr Rowan Williams will open the General Synod in Central London this afternoon with a presidential address in which he will show that he can weather the storm over his recent remarks. He will attempt to set the record straight, insisting that he never advocated a “parallel jurisdiction” of Sharia.

The Archbishop, whose liberal stance has provoked fury among evangelicals, will face further pressure when a senior bishop launches a renewed attack on the Church’s approach to homosexuality.

The Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester and fifth most senior clergyman in the hierarchy, will give warning that the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships.

The issue of homosexuality and the Church is due to be debated by Synod when the Covenant, a new agreement on doctrine supported by Dr Williams, is examined on Wednesday.

In a forward to God, Gays and the Church, a book to be published this week and seen by The Times, Bishop Scott-Joynt attacks what he calls the “public advocating and vaunting of behaviour contrary to the teaching of the Church of England” at last year’s Synod, which was presided over by Dr Williams…

For more background to this book, see Anglican Mainstream’s announcement: God, Gays and the Church and also the announcement by The Latimer Trust God, Gays & the Church: Human Sexuality in Christian Thinking

Also the same journalists have this: Row over gay clergy threatens to divide a Synod still reeling over Sharia furore:

…In a new book, God, Gays and the Church, the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, attacks the acceptance of “alternative, revisionist teaching” on the issue of homosexuality.

Bishop Scott-Joynt, referring to a debate on sexuality at the synod last February, claims that there was a “public advocating and vaunting of behaviour contrary to the teaching of the Church of England”. Several priests in that debate spoke openly of the joy and fulfilment they get from being in openly gay relationships, even though official church discipline demands that gay clergy be celibate.

Bishop Scott-Joynt condemns the fact that personal experience appears to be given the same weight as Scripture, tradition and the Church in the debate over homosexuality…

And Ruth Gledhill has this comment piece: The intellectual arrogance that pervades the heart of Lambeth Palace wisdom:

…Dr Williams was advised before his speech on Thursday evening that the content could prove controversial. He heeded the warnings but went ahead anyway. He was “taken aback” by just how controversial it then proved but remains “chirpy” and unrepentant about his comments because he believes that they needed to be made.

Although he is a holy and spiritual man, danger lies in the appearance of the kind of intellectual arrogance common to many of Britain’s liberal elite. It is an arrogance that affords no credibility or respect to the popular voice. And although this arrogance, with the assumed superiority of the Oxbridge rationalist, is not shared by his staff at Lambeth Palace, it is by some of those outside Lambeth from whom he regularly seeks counsel…

Read the whole article for more on the Lambeth Palace scene.


Ekklesia reports on the Archbishop's lecture row


As a change from the secular media reports, here is what Ekklesia has published:

8 Feb Archbishop under fire over Sharia law lecture and interview

9 Feb Church of England head seeks a multi-faith settlement for the UK

10 Feb What lies beyond Lambeth’s Sharia humiliation?

And see also Real problem, wrong solution

10 Feb Catholics say their marriage tribunals do not seek civil law enforcement

And see also on Comment is free A multi-faith muddle