Thinking Anglicans

faith and politics

Updated Sunday evening

As the General Election nears, more and more reports are appearing on this topic.

The Archbishop of York gave an interview to Articles of Faith titled ‘Faith in Politics – Why Vote’. Archbishop of York: ‘Don’t let BNP win at Westminster’ (scroll down).

This week, the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales will issue a document, to be titled Choosing the Common Good.
There have been two articles in The Times about it, see Roman Catholic bishops enter pre-election fray and also Catholic Church voting guide will be claimed by the Tories. And one article in the Telegraph see Catholic Church election advice seen as endorsement for Tories.

Meanwhile, politicians have also been giving advice to churches. See for example, Church should accept equal rights for gays, says David Cameron and Cameron tells Rowan: Make your Church pro-gay.

In an interview with the gay magazine Attitude, Cameron tells award-winning journalist Johann Hari that ‘our Lord Jesus’ would back equality and gay rights if he were around today. He says he doesn’t want to get into a row with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. ‘But I think the Church has to do some of the things that the Conservative Party has been through – sorting this issue out and recognising that full equality is a bottom line full essential.’

More from the original interview is here. Cranmer had a lot of comment on this.

(Related interview with Gordon Brown here, and report of interview with Nick Clegg here.)

Sunday evening

Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, delivered this lecture: Faith, family and fairness: Labour’s ‘values voters’.
This provoked a strong response from Cardinal Keith O’Brien, from the Church of Scotland, and from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. See:

Cardinal Keith O’Brien hits out at Labour for ‘ignoring’ religious views

Church of Scotland hits out at Labour ‘party of faith’ claim

Scottish Episcopal Church attacks Labour ‘party of faith’ claims and the full text from Bishop David Chillingworth is available via here.


opinion at the end of February

This week The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free section is Are religious texts lost in translation?
Can the spirit of the original be adequately conveyed in a different language?
There have been three Responses.
Alexander Goldberg The word is just the beginning
Conserving the message of texts is important, but it’s what you do with those texts and their teachings that really matters.
Heather McDougall A question of interpretation
Two key texts – John’s gospel and Revelation – illuminate the way belief can turn on the translation of one or two words.
Usama Hasan When words are immutable
There are still those that argue that the Qur’an should not be translated at all. But the best translation of its teachings is action.

In other Comment is free columns:

Lee Rayfield writes Let’s not take the path of assisted dying
Arguments in favour of assisted dying play on our sense of compassion – but they should be resisted.

Andrew Brown asks What do believers want from God?
The Church of England has opened a web page for anyone to post their prayers. Reading them is sad and humbling.

Tom Holland writes a Face to faith column about St Paul, the radical.
St Paul is often dismissed as a finger-wagging bigot. This could not be further from the truth

Tom Sutcliffe writes that The old doctrines are not enough.
The church must provide a valid assertion of truth about life that can stand comparison truths and wisdom drawn from science


Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that New vigour is required in our ethical life.

Jonathan Sacks writes in a Times Credo column
Credo: Why the Ancient Greeks were wrong about morality
The Judaeo-Christian ethic is not the only way of being moral; but it is the only system that has endured


General Synod – Church Times detailed reports 2

The remainder of the detailed Synod reports from the Church Times are now available to non-subscribers. We linked to the first batch here.

Anglican Church of North America: Synod affirms ACNA desire to be in the fold

Legislation: Two jobs completed

Bibel Anniversary: ‘What looks dead and dusty can give you a shock’

Military Chaplains: ‘Support us; respect our work’

Violent Games: Members speak out against ‘inferno’ of computer games

Crown Nominations

Science and God: The scriptures ‘are not a scientific textbook’

Children and Youth: ‘Connected’ youth strategy welcomed

Farewell: The Bishop of Southwark

Civil Partners: Synod agrees to backdate pension rights

Mission Initiatives: Support, money, training needed for fresh expressions

Fresh Expressions

Church Buildings: Help us care for listed buildings, State is urged

Lectionary: Long tussle over the first lesson

Synod Elections

Methodism: Methodists urge more joint work and worship


General Synod – electronic voting

The detailed results of the electronic voting at this month’s General Synod are now available. These include the votes of each member who took part.

Here are the details for the two controversial items.

Anglican Church in North America

This is the final version of the motion (Item 14 as amended by Items 55 and 59):

That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada:
(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

It was carried by these votes:

In Favour Against Recorded
309 69 17

Here are the electronic voting results for this item.

Parity of pension provision for surviving civil partners

This is the motion (Item 22):

That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council and the Church of England Pensions Board to bring forward changes to the rules governing the clergy pension scheme in order to go beyond the requirements of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and provide for pension benefits to be paid to the surviving civil partners of deceased clergy on the same basis as they are currently paid to surviving spouses.

It was carried by the following votes after a Division by Houses.

  In Favour Against Recorded
Bishops 12 2 3
Clergy 97 23 10
Laity 78 59 9

Here are the electronic voting results for the above motion.

There was an amendment (Item 64) moved to the above motion:

Leave out everything after “That this Synod” and insert:
“recognise that it will be some considerable time before surviving civil partners’ pension rights reach parity with those of spouses, and in the light of that note the helpful confirmation from the Pensions Board that surviving civil partners of deceased clergy are eligible to be considered for hardship grants if they meet the same qualifying conditions as apply to surviving spouses.”

This was lost by the following votes.

In Favour Against Recorded
110 154 15

Here are the electronic voting results for the amendment.

Other electronic votes

The other electronic votes are linked here.


more on the civil partnerships story

Updated further on Thursday morning

Back on 5 February, Iain McLean who is Professor of Politics at Oxford University, wrote An open letter to the Bishop of Winchester at the Open Democracy website.

Stuart White wrote a follow-up to this What about my freedom of religion? at Next Left.

This led to today’s letter which you can find via here.

Today, Ruth Gledhill reports all this, and a lot more, on her blog at Gays could soon ‘marry’ in churches, synagogues.

See also the two articles in The Times

Anglican bishops back end to ban on gay civil partnerships in church by Ruth Gledhill and Rosemary Bennett

Civil partnerships have made gay couples just like everyone else by Rosemary Bennett

Ekklesia also has a roundup of these events, which notes that:

Hardline religious activists opposed to any extension of rights for LGBT people are already lobbying vocally against the change.


Other media have repeated the story, see
BBC Clerics call for gay ceremonies at religious venues
Daily Mail Steve Doughty Liberal bishops call for gay couples to be allowed to marry in church
Telegraph Heidi Blake Senior bishops want gay weddings in churches

CIf belief has an article by Andrew Pakula Bishops shouldn’t block equality.

And Diarmaid MacCulloch has also written there, see Bishops act the bully in parliament.

Aaron Goldstein Why equality matters to us

From the other end of the spectrum, ex-CofE minister Charles Raven writes about this, When will Gay Couples be able to take vows in the Church of England?


Civil Partnerships: a letter and a leader

The following letter will appear in The Times tomorrow. It is on the newspaper’s website now.

It’s discrimination to stop gay couples taking vows in church
It is inconsistent to affirm the spiritual independence of the CofE but also deny the spiritual independence of three small communities

Sir, The Civil Partnership Act 2004 prohibits civil partnerships from being registered in any religious premises in Great Britain. Three faith communities — Liberal Judaism, the Quakers, and the Unitarians — have considered this restriction prayerfully and decided in conscience that they wish to register civil partnerships on their premises. An amendment to the Equality Bill, to allow this, was debated in the House of Lords on January 25. It was opposed by the Bishops of Winchester and Chichester on the grounds that, if passed, it would put unacceptable pressure on the Church of England. The former said that “churches of all sorts really should not reduce or fudge, let alone deny, the distinction” between marriage and civil partnership.

In the same debate, the bishops were crucial in defeating government proposals to limit the space within which religious bodies are exempt from anti-discrimination law. They see that as a fundamental matter of conscience. But it is inconsistent to affirm the spiritual independence of the Church of England and simultaneously to deny the spiritual independence of the three small communities who seek this change for themselves (and not for anybody else).

The bishops’ “slippery slope” argument is invalid. Straight couples have the choice between civil marriage and religious marriage. Gay couples are denied a similar choice. To deny people of faith the opportunity of registering the most important promise of their lives in their willing church or synagogue, according to its liturgy, is plainly discriminatory. In the US it would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise . . . of religion.

The amendment will be re-presented by Lord Alli on March 2. We urge every peer who believes in spiritual independence, or in non-discrimination, to support it.

Iain McLean, Professor of Politics, Oxford
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, Oxford
The Right Rev David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury
The Right Rev John Gladwin, Former Bishop of Chelmsford
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Former Bishop of Oxford
The Right Rev Bill Ind, Former Bishop of Truro
The Right Rev Peter Selby, Former Bishop of Worcester
The Right Rev Kenneth Stevenson, Former Bishop of Portsmouth
The Very Rev Nick Bury, Dean of Gloucester
The Rev Jeremy Caddick, Dean, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
The Very Rev Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark
Canon Dr Judith Maltby, Chaplain, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar of the University Church, Oxford
Canon Jane Shaw, Dean of Divinity, New College, Oxford
The Rev Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge
Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History
Alec Ryrie, Professor of the History of Christianity, Durham
Stuart White, Director of the Public Policy Unit, Oxford
Jill Green, Quakers

There is also a leading article, Equal before God.

This Government has done much to bring the law into line with modern attitudes towards homosexuality. It scrapped Section 28 , equalised the age of consent and ended the ban on gays in the Armed Forces.

Now it must resolve the legal asymmetry that prevents homosexual civil partnerships from taking place on religious premises. In a letter to The Times today, a distinguished group of mostly Anglican clergy correctly point out that “straight couples have the choice between civil marriage and religious marriage. Gay couples are denied a similar choice”. That clearly discriminates against homosexuals who are also believers, and three faith communities — Liberal Judaism, the Quakers and the Unitarians — now wish to register civil partnerships on their premises. A legal amendment permitting them to do so is expected to be debated in the House of Lords next month.

The Church of England has so far resisted change, arguing that if some religious groups are allowed to hold civil partnerships then the pressure on the C of E to follow suit will become intolerable. It is a feeble argument. No one is arguing that any church should be forced to conduct a civil partnership. But willing churches should not be precluded from doing so.

Benjamin Disraeli believed the Church of England to be “a part of our liberties, a part of our national character”. If it has any hope of continuing in that role, the Church — and the Government — must recognise that our liberties today should include the right of homosexuals to register the most important promise of their lives in a church.


opinion for the start of Lent

Karen Burke wrires in a Comment is free column in The Guardian about The death of Methodism? Not quite. The Methodist Church might change, or even merge with the CofE. But Methodists don’t need an insitution to be who they are.

Robert Colquhoun writes in the Times about Men, sex, and the Church. Images of a passive Jesus do not encourage red-blooded males to go to Church, but where can men find an authentic model of male Christianity?

Theo Hobson writes in a Comment is free column in The Guardian about An illiberal establishment. For bishops to say that establishment keeps Christianity in the public square is a self-serving betrayal of the gospel.

Ripon Cathedral is hosting a series of lectures on Religion and Politics – The Role of the Church in Contemporary Society during 2010. James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, gave the first of these this week with the title ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ – Really?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Lent, death, Room 101, and wads of cash.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali writes in the Telegraph about Promoting life rather than death. It is absolutely right for us to feel compassion for those who have a terminal or an incurable illness and for their near and dear ones who wish to relieve them of this burden, even if this means the death of the one who is ill.

And finally Jonathan Bartley looks ahead to later in the year in a Comment is free column with That papal Thought for the Day pitch. Pope Benedict may fill BBC Radio 4’s religion slot when he visits this year. What will he be able to get past the producers?


Citizen Ethics Network

Updated Sunday evening

A new and interesting online project has been launched today: Citizen Ethics Network.

The Citizen Ethics Network has been established by Madeleine Bunting (Associate Editor and Columnist for The Guardian), Adam Lent (Head of Economic and Social Affairs at the Trades Union Congress) and Mark Vernon (writer and journalist). The Network is an independent initiative of Madeleine, Adam and Mark and its activities and views do not reflect those of The Guardian or the TUC.

The first publication is a booklet, in PDF format, titled Citizen Ethics in a Time of Crisis.

Contributors include Rowan Williams, Michael Sandel, Diane Coyle, Philip Pullman, Carey Oppenheim, Jesse Norman, Nicholas Sagovsky, Julian Glover, Richard Reeves, Jonathan Rutherford and Jon Cruddas, Robert Skidelsky, Will Hutton, Oliver James, Polly Toynbee, Tariq Ramadan, Alain de Botton, Camila Batmanghelidjh, and Mary Midgley.

The Guardian has also published a four page insert in today’s edition, containing extracts from the booklet.

Cif belief has started a discussion thread, Can you make society more ethical?

There will also be an event at the British Museum, on Friday, 26 February.


Cif belief has now published: Out of the abyss of individualism by Rowan Williams

Towards a just society by Michael Sandel

The three virtues we need by Philip Pullman

To tackle the last decades’ myths, we must dust off the big moral questions by Madeleine Bunting

Do contribute to the comments at these articles if they interest you.

1 Comment

cloak and dagger ordinariates

Updated again Tuesday

Next Monday, FiF UK is observing a Day of Prayer in relation to Anglicanorum Coetibus. Bishop Andrew Burnham’s pastoral letter for February is here.

But Bishop Paul Richardson hasn’t waited, see Martin Beckford’s news story Bishop who predicted death of Church of England converts to Rome.

Meanwhile FiF Australia has already made its decision on this. See this news report in the Telegraph Australia’s traditional Anglicans vote to convert to Catholicism.

Andrew Brown reported in Cif belief on “an email from an Anglican ‘flying bishop’ to a Catholic bishop in Australia” in The cloak and dagger Catholics.

Austen Ivereigh commented on this in America in Romeward Anglicans: a case of too much politics?

Damian Thompson has written in the Catholic Herald It does not matter if the Ordinariate is small at first (also copied over to his Telegraph blog).

A new website, Friends of the Ordinariate, has been launched. This website has been commended by Forward in Faith UK. The Church Times blog has some further tidbits.

Riazat Butt has commented at Cif belief Who’s in the Foto?


Law suits demonic, says Akinola

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) website has published the text of some reports by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) concerning recent activities of Archbishop Peter Akinola.

See Law suits against traditional Anglicans demonic, says Akinola.

The full text of this is copied below the fold.

Scroll down even further for the full text of a second article titled Battle against unscriptural practices not over, says Akinola. Also copied.

So far, I have not been able to locate either of these reports at the website of NAN.

(h/t to Episcopal Café)



ACNA debate continued

Audio recording of the whole debate

Text of lay Synod member Lorna Ashworth’s speech proposing her motion video coverage:

Press conference held on Tuesday

Lorna Ashworth’s opening speech

ACNA debate – Part 1

ACNA debate – Part 2

Text of speech by Archdeacon Norman Russell

Text of speech by the Bishop of Winchester

Transcript of the Tuesday lunchtime presentations to synod members (press were not admitted to this event)

Reflections on Synod vote for C of E to be in Communion with the ACNA by Bishop Henry Scriven (written before the debate)

An article by A. S. Haley criticising the paper that I edited about ACNA: A Vestry Member Returns the Favor

A criticism written by Marc Robertson (no relation) of the paper by Canon Chuck Robertson.

Colin Coward The Future of the Anglican Communion – a Big Question and After a week of Big Questions – the Communion still survives


General Synod – Church Times detailed reports 1

The first batch of detailed Synod reports from the Church Times are now available to non-subscribers.


Women Bishops: Women: the direction of travel

Terms of Service: Synod approves code for ‘hard cases’


The Archbishop of Canterbury’ Presidential Address

Religious Broadcasting: Speakers channel their TV concerns

Clergy Pensions: Retire later for full pension, clergy told

The remaining reports will be available next week.


What We Think We Are Doing

An article with this title by Bishop Pierre Whalon appears this week at Anglicans Online.

You can read it here.

There is then further comment and response by Bishop Whalon at the Episcopal Café.

See the comments here, and the response here.


more on the ACNA debate – part 2

Updated yet again Tuesday evening

See earlier list of pro-ACNA items.

The Church Times headline is Synod holds off from ACNA.

THE General Synod declined on Wednesday afternoon to express a desire to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North Amerca (ACNA).

But, “aware of the distress caused by recent divisions” in the Anglican Churches of the US and Canada, it recognised and affirmed the desire of those who had formed ACNA to be part of the Anglican family, and “acknowledged that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further”.

Earlier in the week, Matt Davies of ENS had reported Church of England says no to full communion with breakaway entity.

Church Mouse For the avoidance of doubt – the CofE did not ‘recognise’ the ACNA yesterday

Simple Massing Priest “Just a flesh wound”

Lionel Deimel Declaring Victory and Moving On

Scott Gunn Parsing Synod — what have they done?

Jim’s Thoughts resolution

Colin Coward Lorna Ashworth’s motion about the Anglican Church in North America

ask the priest Synod, ACNA and the FCE – A narrowly-avoided theological misstep


More from Simple Massing Priest
SOMEBODY on the Anglican Right is lying
Another lie from the Anglican Right

Justin Brett ACNA-Related Ramblings

Stand Firm has discovered another document, Copy of TEC Memo Circulated at CoE Synod.


more on the civil partners pensions debate

The text of the speeches by Giles Goddard and by Simon Baynes are both published below the fold.

Colin Coward has commented about the debate: General Synod approves pension parity for Civil Partnerships.

Andrew Brown commented about it at Cif:belief in Recoiling from nastiness.

According to Christian Today in its news story

One Synod member, who asked to remain anonymous, said conservative Synod members had deliberately withheld from taking to the floor to speak against the motion for fear of reprisals.

“They didn’t dare to. There would have been screams of homophobia if anyone had dared oppose it,” he said.

Anglican Mainstream has already issued two memoranda:

AM comments on private member motion on pensions for civil partners

and a few hours later: Clergy Pension Scheme – what was and wasn’t decided at General Synod

And AM has also published “A briefing paper by Clive Scowen prepared for the Synod debate”, dated 18 January: Should civil partners be treated like spouses?



post-Synod opinion

The Comment is Free section of The Guardian has several General Synod related articles.

Christina Rees Faith in the future: This 35-year debate has become tortuous. But one day soon, women will become bishops.

Judith Maltby Synod: messy, imperfect, but ours: General Synod is a product of a tumultuous history. Flawed as it is, it is rooted in and reflects our traditions.

Andrew Brown Why is the Synod so boring? A reflection on this most urgent question; submitted for wider consultation.

Rosemary Hartill The adversarial model doesn’t help The General Synod suffers because of the way it replicates Parliament – it breeds factions, and disagreement.

Andrew Brown Recoiling from nastiness The General Synod has shown that the Church of England rejects homophobia even if it can’t accept gay people on their own terms.

Andrew Brown Are science and atheism compatible? Science brings no comfort to to anyone with dogmatic beliefs about world.

Dave Walker General Synod The general synod as observed from a lofty vantage point.

And here’s some comment on other topics and from elsewhere.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times Face to face with a man I’ve just had a pop at.

Roderick Strange in a Credo column in the Times We need a blessed filter to make sense of our lives How can wealth, comfort, pleasure and a good name be suspect?

Aaron Taylor in The Guardian A season of bright sadness For Orthodox Christians, the penitential season of Lent means much more than fasting.

Nick Spencer in The Guardian Cherie Booth, faith and religion Why it was reasonable for Cherie Booth to take Shamso Miah’s religious committment into account when sentencing him.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph Our Sound Is Our Wound by Lucy Winkett: Hearing alarms, listening for angels What we can hear, or choose to hear forms a theme in the Lent book of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And finally a leading article in The Independent The ignored gospel message


more on the ACNA debate


The synod debate on ACNA has produced these reactions from Americans who support ACNA:


Brian Lewis writes about the ACNA debate

The following article was written by Brian Lewis for the Preludium blog of Mark Harris.

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language” (Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost 1887).

I was alarmed but (bearing in mind Oscar’s witticism) should not have been surprised to hear that some in TEC and ACoC might misunderstand the full significance of the Church of England’s General Synod’s decision to reject the call to “express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”.

But let us be clear it did just that, not once, but twice or perhaps even three times.

To follow through the sequence of events.

The original motion was:

That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.

In a background paper circulated in advance of the debate the mover (Lorna Ashworth) made a number of allegations about TEC and the ACoC. This clearly established that though the motion was ostensibly only about ACNA it was intended to invite the CoE to condemn the behaviour of TEC and ACoC.

In response to that briefing paper I circulated to all members of synod two papers.

  • The first was written by Revd Canon Alan T Perry LL M. a lecturer in ecclesiastical polity at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and amongst other things former Prolocutor of the Province of Canada and member of the Council of the Canadian General Synod, and specifically rebutting the allegations made against ACoC in Mrs Ashworth’s briefing paper.
  • The second was compiled by Simon Sarmiento (of among other things Thinking Anglicans fame) after consultation with David Booth Beers, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop and Mary E. Kostel, Special Counsel to the Presiding Bishop for property litigation and discipline, and assistance from the Revd Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG, the Revd Scott Gunn, and Ms Susan Erdey of the Church Pension Group. It rebutted the allegations made against TEC.

All synod members including the Archbishops were sent these papers (I believe they are now online at Thinking Anglicans). Members of TEC and ACoC are indebted to Simon; I know how hard he worked on the production of theses papers. I also know how grateful many members of synod were to receive them.

Mrs Ashworth duly presented her motion to Synod, the further allegations made in her opening address confirmed that this was indeed a motion inviting synod to condemn the actions of TEC and ACoC.

In response to the original motion the Bishop of Bristol put forward an amendment (with the support of the House of Bishops) entirely replacing it.

The amendment reads

That this synod
(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

There are two key and essential things to recognise about this amendment (certainly recognised by everyone in the synod and why it was resisted by those supporting ACNA):

  • The original motion had asked the synod to express OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with ACNA.
  • The replacement recognised and affirmed THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

(Other finer questions about “affirm” and “remain” were not key to the understanding of this amendment and to my recollection not brought into the debate, indeed an amendment to leave out “affirm” was withdrawn; we could equally say that by saying the leadership had “formed” ACNA the Bishop was saying ACNA is a new church, but that was also not part of the debate nor probably part of the Bishop’s intention. )

The force of this amendment is in replacing OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

Synod accepted this amendment.

Synod declined to express “a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”. That matters. Questions not asked are one thing but when a question is asked and the answer is politely No Thank You that changes where you are.

The No Thank You was polite, of course it was, but it was real. The amendment also asked our Archbishops for a report on the situation, and helpfully recognised the reality of the issues any future possible recognition would raise for the relevant authorities.

I find it difficult to see how ACNA could welcome any of this.

Further In case it was just possible that this was not a rejection of synod “expressing a desire to be in Communion with ACNA” the supporters of ACNA put forward again, as an amendment to the Bishop’s amendment, the original request “that this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”. Asking the Synod to say both things at once. A very Anglican fudge that would have been!

The Bishop of Winchester and other ACNA supporters spoke for this, needless to say I spoke against it.

This was the critical moment of the debate – you might just possibly maintain we had in the Bishop’s amendment acknowledged proper procedure – the role of the “relevant authorities” the role of the Archbishops etc, now we could add in the support of our persecuted brothers and sisters (as they were presented to us), and say we desired to be in Communion with them.

The synod carefully considered this and voted No.

That is the second time.

Then we were asked to add an amendment that expressed “our desire that in the interim, the orders of ACNA clergy be recognised and accepted by the Archbishops subject to their satisfaction as to such clergy being of good standing, enabling them to exercise their ordained ministry in this country, according to the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967.”

We said No. Recognising orders is a key part of being in Communion.

I’m afraid I consider that is No a third time.

It was hardly surprising however that nobody objected to the final amendment, an acknowledgement of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada – indeed I had referred to it myself when calling on synod members to support those who had remained faithful to their church.

I know the very existence of this debate raises questions about one part of the Anglican Communion interfering with another – and those questions were raised – but before we answer them, what of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Presidential address expressing “repugnance” of the “infamous” proposed legislation in Uganda, and the efforts he and other CofE bishops have made communicating directly with the Anglican Church in Uganda. It is also not improper for a synod to offer its view of who it hopes we will be in Communion with. But I recognise there are big issues at stake for the Communion generally – I would just reiterate, I see little cause for concern for TEC or ACoC in the outcome of this particular debate, and to be frank it is beyond disingenuous or bizarre for anybody connected with ACNA to pretend this is in anyway an affirmation of ACNA.

Brian Lewis


Equality Bill: final day of Lords Committee stage

This happened last Tuesday, 9 February.

The Hansard record starts here, or the PDF is over here.

The Archbishop of York took part in the debate. On this occasion, and in a different context to the previous one, he was in favour of the concept of proportionality.

His contributions are here, here, and here.

The Bill now moves to the Report stage, which will occur on Tuesday 2 March.


General Synod – reports on Friday's business

updated Friday evening

Synod discussed the compatibility of science and Christian belief this morning.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian General Synod says religion and science not mutually exclusive

BBC Synod emphasises compatibility of religion and science

Press Association Religion compatible with science, synod told

Maria Mackay in Christian Today Science and religion are compatible, says Church of England

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Atheists are wrong to claim science and religion are incompatible, Church of England says