Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop and persecution claims

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued an ecumenical Easter Letter to fellow church leaders: Christians need to “witness boldly and clearly”. The press release says:

In his ecumenical Easter Letter to fellow church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury urges those living in politically secure environments to offer practical support as well as prayers for suffering Christians around the world, particularly in Zimbabwe, Mosul, Egypt and Nigeria.

“We need to keep our own fears in perspective. It is all too easy to become consumed with anxiety about the future of the Church and society. We need to need to witness boldly and clearly but not with anger or fear; we need to show that we believe what we say about the Lordship of the Risen Christ and his faithfulness to the world he came to redeem.”

The full text of the letter is below the fold.

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph reports this as Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes claims of ‘persecuted’ Christians in UK.

Riazat Butt in The Guardian has Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes clergy over ‘persecuted’ Christians.

Ekklesia has Archbishop of Canterbury issues challenge over ‘persecution’ claims.



new Anglican Primate of Nigeria

updated Maundy Thursday

Archbishop Peter Akinola has retired as Primate of All Nigeria. His successor as primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, was installed on 25 March and gave this sermon.

Riazat Butt has written in The Guardian about the new primate’s views as expressed in his sermon: The new archbishop’s old prejudice. Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria has been trotting out the same anti-gay rhetoric his predecessor, Peter Akinola, was famous for.

Ruth Gledhill has blogged about this in the Times: Nigerian Anglican primate speaks out on fear of women.

Ademola Oni has written in The Punch (described in its masthead as “Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper”) that Anglican Primate advises politicians on selfless service.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi at AllAfrica writes that Anglican Primate Vows to Fight Homosexuality.

Archbishop Okoh referred in his sermon to the the bishop of Liverpool’s address to his diocesan synod that we linked to here and here.


Pat Ashworth reports this in the Church Times as New Primate glad to be anti-gay.


Los Angeles suffragan consents – more reactions

The Fulcrum Leadership Team has published Where do we go from here? in response to the consents to the election of Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the diocese of Los Angeles.

In response Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life has published ENGLAND: Conservative group denounces consent to Glasspool’s election in Los Angeles.


religious rights of Christians

Updated Maundy Thursday

This weekend’s Sunday Telegraph carried a letter from Lord Carey and five other bishops which the paper headlined The religious rights of Christians are treated with disrespect.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reported this in the Telegraph as Senior bishops call for end to persecution of Christians in Britain.

Maev Kennedy reported this in The Guardian as Bishops claim lack of respect for Christians.

The BBC has Christians discriminated against, bishops warn.

Jonathan Bartley at Ekklesia writes that Bishops should substantiate or desist over ‘persecution’.

George Pitcher in the Telegraph argues that British Christians aren’t persecuted, but they are held in contempt.

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude writes Bishops who complain about crucifix ban maintain prejudice against LGBT people.

Mary Kenny in the Irish Independent writes that Christians are at their best when persecuted, marginalised, disrespected and denied their rights.


Ed Beavan reports this in the Church Times as Christians are discriminated against in UK, say bishops.


opinions before Holy Week

Giles Fraser in the Church Times writes that Salvation is found in the pit of death.

Pierre Whalon writes an essay for Anglicans Online Haiti and the Devil and ponders the question “Are national sins punished by natural catastrophes?”

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph: You’ve made a fortune – now let it go. There are sound religious and social reasons for giving your millions away, he says.

Nicholas Papadopulos writes in the Times on The lure of last words. Lent is traditionally the time to contemplate the final words uttered by Christ on the Cross.

Jonathan Sacks has a Credo article in the Times: If faith schools are so bad, why do parents love them? It may not be the faith in faith schools that makes them different, so much as the communities that build, support and sustain them.

William Doino Jr writes in the Times about Remembering Romero. Today [24 March] marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.

And finally a warning for those still planning their Palm Sunday services.


Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church

updated Maundy Thursday

The US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has published a draft of the 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church”. This is really two reports, one from the “Traditionalists” and one from the “Liberals”.

Episcopal Life has this story: Bishops’ theology committee publishes draft report on same-gender relationships which includes useful information of the report’s status. It starts:

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, concluding its six-day retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, has posted a draft of the long-awaited 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church” on the College for Bishops’ website here.

“For a generation and more the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion have been engaged in a challenging conversation about sexual ethics, especially regarding same-sex relationships in the life of the church,” Theology Committee Chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley wrote in the report’s preface. “The hope of this work is that serious engagement in theological reflection across differences will build new bridges of understanding.”

A notation on the report’s table of contents page cautions that the report “has been edited in several places” following a discussion among the bishops on March 20. “The responses of several pan-Anglican and ecumenical theologians will be added to this study in the summer, along with some further editing, before a final edition is published,” the note concludes.

Episcopal Café reports this as House of Bishops posts same-sex report(s).


Bill Bowder reports this in the Church Times as US theologians have words over gay marriage.


Equality Bill latest

The Equality Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords yesterday. Reports of the debate are online at They Work for You and Lords Hansard. The amendments to clause 202 (amendments 4 and 5 in the debate) that we detailed earlier were carried. The bill now returns to the House of Commons for consideration of these and all the other Lords amendments.

Martin Beckford writes in the Telegraph Government insists vicars will not be sued for refusing ‘gay marriages’ in churches.

Simon Caldwell and Martin Beckford also wrote in the Telegraph before the Lords third reading debate that Equality Bill could be amended by Lords to benefit Catholic adoption agencies but the amendment referred to (number 7 in the debate) was not moved.


General Synod – questions and answers

The answers to the questions asked at last month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available.

Questions with Answers February 2010


Poon on the Covenant

Michael Poon has written a paper The Anglican Communion as Communion of Churches: on the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant.

It is available in various formats from Fulcrum and Global South Anglican.

The paper aims to draw out the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant for the Anglican Communion. It begins by examining the nature and reasons of the “ecclesial deficit” of the Anglican Communion. It points out that the ecclesial status of the Anglican Communion has never been clarified. The Anglican Communion arises historically as an accident. It has never been constituted as an ecclesial body. The paper traces the transformations in the Anglican ecclesiastical map amid powerful global undercurrents in the second half of the twentieth century. It reflects on the emergence of the status of the See of Canterbury as “focus of unity” of the Anglican Communion. It proceeds to point out how uncritical adoption of the term “instruments of unity” from Protestant ecumenical dialogues led to confusion and mistrust among Anglican Churches. The paper then explores the potentials of communion-ecclesiology for the Anglican Covenant. It goes on to argue that the Anglican Covenant, grounded in the New Covenant, provides the canonical structure of the Anglican Communion. It constitutes the particular Churches to be a confident Communion of Churches. The inter-Anglican structures of the Anglican Communion should in fact be the ecclesiastical embodiment of the Anglican Covenant.

The Revd Canon Dr Michael Poon is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College, Singapore.


Bishop of Chelmsford

From the Number10 website.

Monday 22 March 2010
Diocese of Chelmsford

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, BA, Suffragan Bishop of Reading, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford in succession to the Right Reverend John Warren Gladwin, MA, on his resignation on the 31st August 2009.

Stephen Cottrell (aged 51) was born and brought up in Essex. He was educated at the Polytechnic of Central London where he took a BA in Media Studies in 1979. He then worked in the film industry and for a year at St Christopher’s Hospice in South London. He trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. From 1984 to 1988 he was a Curate at Christ Church Forest Hill, Southwark. From 1988 to 1993 he was Priest-in-Charge at Parklands St Wilfrid’s, Chichester and Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies, Chichester Theological College. From 1993 to 1998 he was Diocesan Missioner, in Wakefield and Bishop’s Chaplain for Evangelism. From 1998 to 2001 he was Missioner with Springboard the Archbishop’s initiative for evangelism and Consultant in Evangelism in Wakefield. From 2001 to 2004 he was Canon Residentiary at Peterborough Cathedral. Since 2004 he has been Area Bishop for Reading in the diocese of Oxford.

Stephen Cottrell is married and has three teenage children. His interests include music, he plays the guitar and tries to play the ukulele banjo, writing, he is the author of many books on evangelism, catechesis and spirituality and one book of short stories for children, cooking, poetry and film.

The diocese of Oxford has a press release: Bishop swaps Reading for Chelmsford.
And so does the diocese of Chelmsford: Next Bishop of Chelmsford comes home “hungry for us to be a Church that connects with every person and every community”.
As does the Church of England: Next Bishop of Chelmsford comes home “hungry for us to be a church that connects with every person and every community”.


equinoctial opinion

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a lecture on Faith, hope and charity in tomorrow’s world at Lincoln Cathedral recently.

Hans Küng writes in the National Catholic Reporter about Ratzinger’s Responsibility: ‘Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over, we need a change of attitude’

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Celibacy and child abuse. Many people blame celibacy for Catholic sexual abuse. But it’s much more likely to have played a role in the cover-up.

Theo Hobson in The Guardian If Quakers were more Christian. I admire the Quakers’ anti-authoritarian and minimalist ethos. But they’ve thrown the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.

Antony Lerman in The Guardian Embracing the religious marketplace. Faith leaders are naive to think that religion is marginalised. It benefits from a previously unimaginable freedom.

Geoffrey Rowell has a Credo column in the Times: Verses that lead us towards a greater understanding. The two great commandments that Jesus gave us are the love of God with all our heart, mind. soul and strength, and the love of our neighbour as ourselves.

Christine Allen in a Guardian Comment is free column writes Romero, a beacon of hope for the poor. Oscar Romero died 30 years ago. Yet he can still teach us much about good Christian values.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about A Primatial problem in Parliament.

Sebastian Bakare in the Church Times asks Who is behind the persecution? The plight of Anglicans in Harare raises questions of responsibility.

In a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph, Taking the God out of good, Christopher Howse reviews The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens


CEC comments on Equality Bill and Adoption Agencies

The Cutting Edge Consortium has issued a press release:


The Cutting Edge Consortium (CEC) deplores the tabling, yet again, of an amendment to the Equality Bill, this time by Baroness Williams of Crosby, designed to provide an explicit exemption for religious fostering and adoption agencies from anti-discrimination law. The aim of Equalities legislation should be that services targeted at various population groups are provided in the overall context of achieving a more equal society, not to institutionalize discrimination.

(continued below the fold)


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Archbishop of Dublin on the Anglican Covenant

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd John Neill, thinks that a two-tier fellowship may emerge in the Anglican Communion as the member- Churches debate signing the Anglican Covenant.

Dr Neill, who was speaking recently to members of the Marsh Society in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin, said: “I don’t like two-tier fellowships, but it may be a way forward at the moment.”

Read the full article from the Church of Ireland Gazette:

Archbishop of Dublin fears emergence of ‘two-tier’ Anglican Communion by Patrick Comerford (scroll all the way down)


Civil Partnerships: Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is considering a Civil Partnership Bill.

See this earlier report on what the Evangelical Alliance Ireland said about it.

The Church of Ireland Gazette has a report this week on what the Church of Ireland is doing in relation to it. See C. of I. delegation on Civil Partnership Bill (scroll down for item).

…”The group expressed the view that many in the Church of Ireland would welcome the legislation and that it was important that Government legislated for all its citizens. They did, however, raise issues relating to freedom of conscience and property.”

In response to a request for further information on those issues, the Gazette was told that some members of the delegation had expressed concern over freedom of conscience issues for registrars who may have objections to participating in civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The issues of property, we were told, related to the availability of parish halls under the Equal Status Act in respect of goods and services. We were told that clarity was also sought on the issue of Church halls that were not made commercially available, and that Department officials had said they would respond on that point…

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Equality Bill: more Church Times reports

First of all, the articles, letters previously listed from last week are now all available without subscription.

Second, this week’s news report written by me can be read now, see Alteration proposed for Bill.

…The effect of the amendment is to require that the approval of in­dividual religious premises for the registration of civil partnerships needs consents from a “person spec­ified, or a person of a descrip­tion specified” in new regulations to be laid before Parliament after con­sultation with various religious bodies.

The present rule forbidding the use of any religious premises for civil-partnership registrations re­mains in force in the mean time. The amendment specifically allows for distinctions to be made, not only between religious premises and “other premises” but also between different kinds of religious premises. For example, the arrangements for Quakers might be different to those for Liberal Judaism. Nor would it be necessary for the regulations govern­ing civil partnerships to be identical to those relating to civil marriages in the same venue.

A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed on Wednesday that the amendment took account of discussions held with the Govern­ment. The Church of England’s con­cern, he said, was to ensure that the regulations provided for an opt-in or opt-out at denominational level. The C of E (and other denominations) wanted to be able to nominate a national body to declare a position on this issue, before individual ap­plications could be made. This was what the Quakers themselves had done (Comment, 12 March)

And the CT blog has noted that Equality Bill: Amendment allowing civil partnerships in church buildings could be lost, and linked to the letter already published here.

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High Court rules in favour of adoption agency


The Chancery Division of the High Court has published its decision in the case of Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) v Charity Commission for England and Wales & Ano[the]r.

You can read the ruling in full here, as web pages, or here as an .rtf file.

Earlier documents in the case (mentioned in the above) can be found here.

A press release from Catholic Care can be found here, and one from Stonewall can be found here.

There are newspaper reports:

The Times High Court reverses ban on Catholic Care’s anti-gay adoption policy by Ruth Gledhill and Rosemary Bennett and see also Catholics win latest stage in gay adoption battle on Ruth’s blog.

Guardian Riazat Butt Catholic adoption agency can turn away gay couples

Telegraph Matthew Moore Catholic adoption agency wins gay rights exemption ruling

Press Association Adoption society wins gay ruling

Reuters Catholic charity wins gay adoption ruling

Independent Sarah Cassidy Catholic group granted gay adoption exemption


Some of the press reports give an erroneous impression of what has happened so far. This report by Joshua Rozenberg is more reliable: While Catholics Care, Children Suffer, and the Christian Institute is remarkably muted in tone in this report: Glimmer of hope for RC adoption agency.


Equality Bill: another letter to The Times

From here:

Trying to celebrate civil partnerships

Sir, On February 23 you published our letter, signed also by several senior Anglicans, urging the House of Lords to support Lord Alli’s amendment to permit civil partnerships to be held on the premises of Quakers, Liberal Judaism and Unitarians. You also published a powerful leader, “Equal before God”, in support of our letter.

Lord Alli’s amendment was carried in a free vote by 95 to 21 in the face of opposition from both front benches. Several speakers quoted our letter or your leader. The Government has now accepted it, but if the Equality Bill is incomplete at the dissolution of Parliament, it goes into what politicians call “wash-up”. Only the parts acceptable to both main parties survive; the rest fall.

We hope that, as they start to campaign for the general election, they will all give an express promise to protect the amendment.

Iain McLean, FBA
Professor of Politics, University of Oxford

Diarmaid Macculloch, FBA
Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford

Previous letter and leader article are here.


Los Angeles suffragans complete consent process

Updated Saturday morning and Monday morning

Both suffragan bishops recently elected in Los Angeles have now completed the process of church-wide consents.

Los Angeles diocesan announcement: Episcopal church consents to Glasspool’s ordination

Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the required number of consents from diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to her ordination and consecration as a bishop, according to a March 17 statement from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s office.

Statements from the Los Angeles bishops-elect: Consent process complete for Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool

ENS report: Los Angeles Bishop-elect Glasspool receives church’s consent to ordination

Some initial press reports:

Los Angeles Times Episcopal Church approves ordination of openly gay bishop in Los Angeles

Associated Press Episcopal church approves 2nd gay bishop

New York Times Episcopalians Confirm a Second Gay Bishop


Living Church Lambeth Regrets Consents for Canon Glasspool

…This is the full statement from Lambeth Palace:

It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reiterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.

Living Church Communion Partners on Bishop-elect Glasspool

Fulcrum Fulcrum Response to Consents being given to the Consecration of Mary Glasspool

Further update

LGCM Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement welcomes confirmation of Mary Glasspool as Suffregan Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles


Equality Bill: more civil partnership amendments

New amendments have today been filed, for consideration at Third Reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 23 March.

First, here is the main new amendment filed:

Clause 202

Page 125, line 25, at end insert—
“(2B) Provision by virtue of subsection (2)(b) may, in particular, provide that applications for approval of premises may only be made with the consent (whether general or specific) of a person specified, or a person of a description specified, in the provision.
(2C) The power conferred by section 258(2), in its application to the power conferred by this section, includes in particular—
(a) power to make provision in relation to religious premises that differs from provision in relation to other premises;
(b) power to make different provision for different kinds of religious premises.”
Page 125, line 29, at end insert—
“(3B) “Civil marriage” means marriage solemnised otherwise than according to the rites of the Church of England or any other religious usages.
(3C) “Religious premises” means premises which—
(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.”

Now, here is the wording of Clause 202 as already amended, and showing in bold the effect of the above new amendment on that Clause:

Civil partnerships
Civil partnerships on religious premises
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows. 20
Omit section 6(1)(b) and (2). In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—

“(2A) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.” 25

(2B) Provision by virtue of subsection (2)(b) may, in particular, provide that applications for approval of premises may only be made with the consent (whether general or specific) of a person specified, or a person of a description specified, in the provision.

(2C) The power conferred by section 258(2), in its application to the power conferred by this section, includes in particular—
(a) power to make provision in relation to religious premises that differs from provision in relation to other premises;
(b) power to make different provision for different kinds of religious premises.”

In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“(3A) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

(3B) “Civil marriage” means marriage solemnised otherwise than according to the rites of the Church of England or any other religious usages.

(3C) “Religious premises” means premises which—
(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.”

And finally, below the fold is the wording of the amended clauses of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to show where it would end up, if this new amendment is passed.

There are two other minor amendments filed:

Clause 216
Page 134, line 9, after “sections” insert
“202 (civil partnerships on religious premises),”

Schedule 27
Page 234, line 24, at end insert—
“Civil Partnership Act 2004 Section 6(1)(b) and (2)”



Reforming the House of Lords – 2

See earlier article here.

From Cif belief Goodbye to the bishops by Polly Toynbee:

Today an ICM poll for Power2010… shows that 74% of voters think unelected bishops should have no place in the legislature, and only 21% believe that they should. Even more persuasive is that 70% of Christians want the bishops gone, and only 26% are in favour of keeping them.

And, from Ekklesia ICM Survey of attitudes to bishops in Parliament and religion in public life:

The population of the UK is equally split over the importance of institutional religion in public life, but three-quarters believe it is wrong for bishops to have reserved places in the House of Lords.

The findings come in an ICM poll commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, as part of the Power 2010 initiative of which the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia is a member.

They are the first major survey of public opinion with regard to the place of bishops in the House of Lords. It was carried out on 10-11 March 2010.

Findings included:

  • 43% of people believe it is important that institutional religion plays a role in public life, whilst 41% feel it isn’t important.
  • Many more Muslims (84%) than Christians (50%) believe that it is important that ‘organised religion should play a role in public life’.
  • 74% of the population – including 70% of Christians – believe it is wrong that some Church of England Bishops are given an automatic seat in the House of Lords.
  • 65% say it is important that anyone who sits in the House of Commons or House of Lords and votes on laws is elected
  • Support for the place of Church of England bishops in the Lords is least in Scotland, where only 20% of the population believe their presence is significant.

Read the full survey results here: