Thinking Anglicans

Indian Ocean archbishop also writes to Canterbury

We reported earlier on the letter from the Archbishop of Uganda to the Archbishop of Canterbury. And even earlier there was a letter from the Bishop of Egypt, which we reported here.

Now the Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean, The Most Revd Ian Ernest, who is Bishop of Mauritius, has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury as well.

Read his letter in full here.

Also, ENS has INDIAN OCEAN: Primate suspends ‘all communication’ with Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada.


Archbishop on BBC Radio 4: Start the Week

We have already reported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s participation in the BBC Radio 4 Start the Week programme last week.

The Archbishop has now published the following on his website, with links to audio files of the programme and a subsequent discussion on the BBC’s Feedback programme.

Archbishop on BBC Radio 4: Start the Week

Monday 05 April 2010

In a special Easter edition of Start the Week recorded at Lambeth Palace, Andrew Marr discusses personal faith and institutional failure with Dr Rowan Williams.

The programme also discusses atheism and the Bible with novelist Philip Pullman, on the publication of his new work ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’; whether faith can or should enter economics with Islamic scholar Professor Mona Siddiqui and cultural identity and religious jokes with David Baddiel on the release of his new film The Infidel.

Play 100405 Easter Start The Week [28Mb]

A few days after Start the Week was broadcast, Feedback, the forum show for comments, queries and criticisms of BBC radio programmes and policy asked ‘Did Radio 4 misrepresent statements made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in its news bulletins over the weekend?’

Play 100409 BBC Feedback [12Mb]

1 Comment


Updated Tuesday evening

The Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/FCA) met in Bermuda from 5 to 9 April 2010. They have issued a communiqué (online here and here) which is copied below the fold.

The communiqué refers to the fourth Global South to South Encounter (GSE4) to be held later this month at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore. The programme for GSE4 is here and the list of participants here.

Update See also ENS report, Conservative Primates Council elects new leadership, criticizes Episcopal Church.



Easter opinion

Jonathan Bartley in The Guardian writes At cross purposes. Conflicting views of the meaning of the crucifixion have led to strikingly different patterns of behaviour among believers.

Proof of God comes in “resurrection moments” says the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon.

Richard Harries in the Times writes Marginalised maybe, but we aren’t persecuted. Christians in Britain must learn to profess their faith without sounding superior to others.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that The Left is just too patronising.

Stephen Tomkins writes in The Guardian about The Christian tradition of politics. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but Christian feeling for politics isn’t all about sex, as the pioneers of the labour movement show.

Tony Bayfield writes in The Guardian about Religion’s role: separate but engaged. While religion must be separated from the state, it should have influence in politics.

Christopher Howse writes in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph about The serpent-sharp power of prudence. A believer has someone to ask for the strength to go through with a prudent act.

Kathy Galloway writes in a Credo column in the Times that Our true life consists in what we value, not in our wealth. There is the danger inherent in the worldly power that money brings with it; the power to get one’s own way, to seek to buy people as well as things.

In a five-minute video Guardian religious affairs correspondent Riazat Butt talks to director Michael Whyte about his film No Greater Love, a portrait of a Carmelite convent in west London.


US Presiding Bishop writes to her fellow primates regarding bishop-elect Glasspool

Updated Saturday to restore a missing paragraph to the letter

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to her fellow Anglican primates regarding the forthcoming consecration of bishop-elect Mary Glasspool. The letter is posted at the Diocese of East Tennessee website, and reprinted here below the fold.



Archbishop of Church of Uganda writes to Archbishop of Canterbury

Updated Friday afternoon twice and Saturday afternoon

The Most Revd Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury today about “about the shift in the balance of powers among the Instruments of Communion”. He complains that the Joint Standing Committee is being given “enhanced responsibility” whilst the Primates of the Anglican Communion (of which he is one) are being given “diminished responsibility”. In the letter he resigns from the Standing Committee.

He also says that “There is an urgent need for a meeting of the Primates to continue sorting out the crisis that is before us, especially given the upcoming consecration of a Lesbian as Bishop in America.” However “the meeting should not include the Primates of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada who are proceeding with unbiblical practices that contradict the faith of Anglicanism”.

The full text of the letter can be found here and is also copied here below the fold.

Pat Ashworth reports this for the Church Times: Anglicans ‘moving into darkness’ says Orombi.
Ruth Gledhill is reporting in her Times blog that Orombi has not in fact resigned from the Standing Committee.

We also have a copy of the original letter.

Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life reports this as UGANDA: Archbishop Orombi expresses concerns about Standing Committee.



Equality bill completes passage through Parliament

The Equality Bill completed its passage through the UK Parliament yesterday when the House of Commons accepted all the Lords amendments. It will now go for Royal Assent.

Press Association Equality Bill sent for Royal Assent

Ekklesia Faith groups hail new law allowing civil partnerships on religious premises


Rowan Williams on Radio 4

Updated Monday afternoon

This morning BBC Radio 4 broadcast a special edition of Start the Week recorded at Lambeth Palace. This was trailed as follows.

In a special edition of Start the Week recorded at Lambeth Palace, Andrew Marr talks to the Archbishop of Canterbury about his role combining the history and structure of the church with personal belief. They are joined by Philip Pullman who was inspired by Dr Rowan Williams to write his new book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ about religion, truth and interpretation; by Professor Mona Siddiqui who’ll be discussing her new role trying to marry religious values with economic growth and by author and comedian David Baddiel who’ll be talking about religious identity and his new film The Infidel, a comedy about a Muslim who realises he’s Jewish.

The programme is now available to listen to online; the main interview with the archbishop is between 1min 30sec and 8min 45sec from the beginning.

Update As well as the streaming audio linked above, there is a podcast available for download.

The Guardian has a leading article: Rowan Williams: Little cause for regrets. Archbishop has said out loud something that is completely straightforward and thereby provoked an enormous row.

There have been a number of news items in the last few days anticipating what the archbishop was going to say.

The BBC itself carried this report on Saturday Williams criticises Irish Catholic Church ‘credibility’ followed by Rowan Williams expresses ‘regret’ over church remarks and then on Sunday by Archbishop of Canterbury sorry over abuse comments.

David Batty in The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury: Irish Catholic church has lost all credibility

Ruth Gledhill in the Times Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury, regrets Catholic attack
Ireland Archbishop stunned by Dr Rowan Williams’ criticism of Catholic Church
Archbishop on papal offer: ‘God bless them, I don’t’


Archbishop – Cross is a challenge to the world

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at Canterbury Cathedral this morning. You can read the text of his sermon here, and below is the accompanying press release.

Press release from Lambeth Palace
Sunday 4th April 2010
Archbishop – Cross is a challenge to the world

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has used his Easter sermon to urge Christians to keep a proper sense of proportion when they feel they are experiencing opposition to their faith and remember both the physical suffering of Christian minorities in other countries and call to mind what exactly the Cross stands for in their faith.

In his Easter sermon delivered at Canterbury Cathedral he says that ‘bureaucratic silliness’ over displaying religious symbols should not be mistaken for physical persecution:

‘It is not the case that Christians are at risk of their lives or liberties in this country simply for being Christians. Whenever you hear overheated language about this remember those many, many places where persecution is real and Christians are being killed regularly and mercilessly or imprisoned and harassed for their resistance to injustice.”

“Remember our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in Iraq, the Christian communities of southern Sudan … the Christian minorities in the Holy Land … or our own Anglican friends in Zimbabwe; … we need to keep a sense of perspective, and to redouble our prayers and concrete support.”

He says that the climate of intellectual opposition to Christianity – what he called ‘the strange mixture of contempt and fear towards the Christian faith’, regarding it as both irrelevant and a threat – is largely unjustified:

“… on many of the major moral questions of the day, the Christian Church still speaks for a substantial percentage of the country – not to mention speaking with the same concerns as people of other faiths. On burning questions like the rightness of assisted suicide, it is far from the case that the Christian view is only that of a tiny religious minority; and the debate is still very much alive.”

He challenges intellectual critics of religion and Christianity to come and see the difference that Christians are making in their communities

“… at local level, the Church’s continuing contribution to tackling the human problems no-one else is prepared to take on is one of the great untold stories of our time. I think of the work of a parish I visited in Cleethorpes a few weeks ago and the work they sponsor and organize with teenagers excluded from school in an area of high deprivation. I should be more impressed with secularist assaults if there were more sign of grass roots volunteer work of this intensity done by non-religious or anti-religious groups.”

“There are things to be properly afraid of in religious history, Christian and non-Christian; there are contemporary religious philosophies of the Taleban variety which we rightly want to resist as firmly as we can. But we do need to say to some of our critics that a visit to projects like the one I have mentioned ought to make it plain enough that the last thing in view is some kind of religious tyranny. And if any of the Church’s vocal critics would care to accompany me on such a visit, I should be delighted to oblige.”

But he says the Cross is an object that ought to be feared as well as respected because what it stands for is nothing less than the uncomfortable reality about ourselves and the world we live in:

… we must acknowledge our own share in what the cross is and represents; we must learn to see ourselves as caught up in a world where the innocent are scapegoated and killed and where we are all unwilling, to a greater or lesser degree, to face unwelcome truths about ourselves. We must learn to see that we cannot by our own wisdom and strength cut ourselves loose from the tangle of injustice, resentment, fear and prejudice that traps the human family in conflict and misery.”

And the hope that it represents is no less challenging, he says;
“If you want it to be invisible because it’s too upsetting to people’s security, I can well understand that; but let’s have it out in the open. Is the God we see in the cross, the God who lives through and beyond terrible dereliction and death and still promises mercy, renewal, life – is that God too much of a menace to be mentioned or shown in the public life and the human interactions of society?”


Easter messages

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

We have already linked to the ecumenical Easter Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Here are links to, and extracts from, some of the many other Easter messages.

Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church

Beginning with the example of the people of Haiti, who “need to practice saying Alleluia” this year so that they can celebrate Easter in the midst of grief and darkness, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori calls on Episcopalians to stretch their spiritual muscles in order to “insist on resurrection everywhere we turn” in her 2010 Easter message.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

“Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen; Tell it with a joyful voice”

Having made our journey through Holy Week, commemorating the events of the Lord’s passion, death and burial we come now to Easter and the joy of His Glorious Resurrection.

Sunday by Sunday throughout the great festival of Easter, we take delight in hearing those stories of how the risen Lord appeared to so many — greeting and calling them by name, opening the scriptures and teaching them, breaking bread in their midst, bestowing his peace, breathing the Holy Spirit into their hearts and then sending them into all the world. Alongside these wonderful stories are accounts of the earliest Christian preaching recorded in The Acts of the Apostles.

The Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

A belief in death and resurrection of Jesus is a decision of the mind and the heart. It is a faith choice. You can believe the witnesses who say that something remarkable occurred in the resurrection of Jesus from death – a resurrection that has gone on recreating the world ever since by the triumph of divine life over death, divine love over hate, and divine light over darkness. Or you can believe that the witnesses were mistaken and that life and death, love and hate, light and darkness are evenly matched and that there is no ultimate power for good that is stronger than the grave.

The Archbishop of Melbourne

In a message on Youtube for Easter 2010, Archbishop Philip Freier invites you to be inspired by the lives of Hugh Evans, founder of the Oaktree Foundation and the Global Poverty Project, and Jessie Taylor, refugee advocate and lawyer. Their compassion and pursuit of justice have come from a living faith in the risen Christ.

The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe

When the Roman Emperor Constantine won a decisive battle at the Milvian Bridge in the year 312, he had a vision. Constantine thought he saw in the sky the Greek letters Chi-Rho – the first letters of the word Christ – with the words in hoc signo vincit – ‘in this sign, conquer’. Constantine won, and took control of the Roman Empire, bringing to an end the persecution of Christianity, and establishing it as a religio licita – a permitted religion, and then recognising it as the religion of the Roman Empire, even though he himself was not baptised until he was dying. The church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, saw the conversion of Constantine as one of the great providential moments. Just as St Luke, at the end of the Acts of the Apostles, brings the Gospel to Rome, the political heart of the known world, so now the kingdoms of this world, and the Roman Empire in particular, ‘have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.’

Would that things were so simple. A millennium or more after Constantine a German monk, Martin Luther, saw the corruption of the church and, in part, traced it back to Constantine. Had the church captured the empire, or the empire captured the church? The relation between church and state has always been ambiguous.

Bishop of Bangor

Christ’s death and resurrection bring forgiveness to those with broken and ruptured lives and hope for a more just and humane society, the Bishop of Bangor says in his Easter message this year.

Bishop of St Asaph

“There is no going back” says the Bishop of St Asaph as he reflects on the message of Easter this year. The symbol of the egg, so familiar at Easter, reminds us that there comes a time when “the chick bursts forth, and there’s no going back.” The resurrection of Jesus “is an invitation to us to embrace new life”.

Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe

Oscar Romero’s murder in El Salvador. He was murdered because he challenged the violence and oppression of those in positions of political power. He was slain by a goverment-sanctioned bullet to the chest as he said Mass in the humble monastery where he lived.

Bishop of Down and Dromore

The story of Easter is told this year in a context where many of our key ‘institutions’ are under serious scrutiny – and it is right that it should be so. Institutions are necessary for the ordering of society, but they can take on a life of their own and become self-serving. That applies, of course, not only to the institutions of politics and society, but also – and equally – to the institutions of the church, which can be just as fallen, just as sinful, and even more profoundly disappointing, because they claim to exist for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Revd David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference

In his Easter message, Revd David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference, has called on Methodists to celebrate God’s action in the here and now.

David stressed the Church’s responsibility to tell good news stories, witnessing to God’s love in action in the lives of individuals and communities in 21st century Britain and all around the world.

He spoke of how the most exciting stories of the Methodist faith lie not just in the past, but in contemporary Church life. “There are some impressive and important stories to be told,” he said. “Not of how things used to be. Not of our Church’s former greatness. Not of our happy memories. But of God’s love in action in the lives of people here and now. The stories come from all over the place. And it is important we share them.”

The truth is out there – Bishop of Swansea and Brecon

Christ’s Resurrection urges us to create a society which brings love, truth and justice to all, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon says in his Easter message.

Scottish Church leaders’ Easter appeal to Government. This ends:

All of us have a political choice in the next few weeks. We call upon all people of goodwill to make it clear to candidates of all parties that we should choose life over death and the alleviation of poverty over the replacement of Trident.

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church – All are welcome

Good Friday and Easter Day are the centre of the Christian faith story. Our churches will be busy this weekend. Our worship will be full of drama and emotion as we tell again what we believe to be the greatest story of all human history. You will be welcome join us and to be part of that.

And finally …

Archbishop Robert Duncan of The Anglican Church in North America

“Go make the tomb secure…”


Holy Week opinion

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recorded his Reflections on Holy Week and given a series of Holy Week Lectures entitled ‘The beginning of the Gospel – reading Mark’s life of Jesus’.

The Archbishop has also given an address on The Fellowship of the Baptized.

The Archbishop has also reviewed Philip Pullman’s new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ for The Guardian. It is also reviewed by Christopher Howse in the Telegraph.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols talks about Holy Week through Art (a 13 minute video).

This week’s The Question in The Guardian is Should we observe Easter or Earth Hour? with these responses.
Stephen Tomkins: A glimmer of hope for the world. A cross, or a crescent, is more likely to inspire collective action for the environment than any secular symbol
Alan Wilson: Redemption from the inside out. Scolding is not enough to turn the tide of human nature. Inner change, not scare tactics, is what’s needed to save us.

Harriet Baber writes in The Guardian about The utilitarian case for Easter. Made-up symbolic gestures and holidays like Earth Hour don’t have the same pizzazz as Easter.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times says Preach the power of Christ risen.

Graham Kings writes in the Times about Perceptions of the Cross. He also has a Holy Week poem, The Hostage Deal, online.

Cole Moreton writes in The Guardian about Welcome to the Church of Everywhere. Organised religion has waned but a new faith has bloomed – epitomised by Jade Goody’s funeral.
[Moreton’s new book Is God Still an Englishman? is reviewed in the Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.]

George Pitcher in the Telegraph asks Will we follow Jesus out of the comfort zone? Easter is a time to reflect Christ’s compassion for the wretched.

It’s not really opinion, but here is a fine set of photographs of Holy Week worshippers from around the world: Holy Week, 2010.