Jim Naughton has written an article at Episcopal Café titled The self-trivializing Anglican Communion.
…About halfway through weighing some of the issues that I’ve written about here before, I had a sudden realization: reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial — We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to accede to the archbishop’s proposal — and I suppose I think that we shouldn’t because it would only encourage him to make other such requests — just that whether we accede or not make very little difference to the world, to the Communion, to our ecumenical partners, to our church, or even to a Communion news junky like me.
Which is why I was of no use to the reporters I spoke to on Friday afternoon; because, God bless them, they had to write stories based on the mistaken notion that all of this stuff still matters, and increasingly, it does not. In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.
Last week, Jim also wrote a piece endorsing last week’s Observer article criticising Anglican silence on gay persecution in Africa, see Complicity is too mild a word.
As Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has not only been complicit in the persecution of gay and lesbian Africans, he has actively abetted the cause of the Anglican Communion’s most virulently bigoted prelates, and twisted the Communion’s moral calculus beyond recognition…
…Williams’ silence on these issues would be less troubling had he not so frequently and publicly criticized the Episcopal Church for treating gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered Christians as full members of the Church. He used an invitation to the Church’s General Convention last summer to urge worshipers — during a sermon — not to pass legislation making it more likely that a gay or lesbian candidate would be elected to the episcopacy. When then-Canon Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, received sufficient consents to be consecrated as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Williams expressed his displeasure in a press release emailed far and wide at the crack of dawn (in stark contrast to his tepid criticism of the Ugandan legislation). And he continues to warn about the “consequences” that the Episcopal Church will face for Glasspool’s consecration.
Williams’ behavior suggests that there is only one sin for which an Anglican leader can earn public condemnation, and only one act that merits exclusion from the councils of the Communion: repenting of the Church’s age old homophobia. Calling him complicit in the persecutions of LGBT people in African suggests that he acquiesced in the creation of a climate of intolerance within the Anglican Communion. But in reality, he is one of its architects.
Two news sources from Nigeria report this story.
Weekend Observer Homosexuality:Pull Out Of United Nations … Anglican Primate Urges FG
The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, last Thursday called on Nigeria to quit the UN, over the latter’s support for homosexuality.
Okoh said that it was regrettable that the UN was currently using human rights bodies and non-governmental organisations to ensure the entrenchment of homosexuality globally. The cleric made the call in Lagos at a reception held for him by the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos.
“If the UN has made itself an agent for the propagation of homosexuality globally, then it is time for us (Nigeria) to pull out of the organisation.
“This is because the UN has no right to determine for or impose moral standards on us (Nigeria). Let us stand firm and refuse to be bought over by the West,’’ he said.
Okoh promised to continue the fight against homosexuality and urge the Anglican Church to support him…
Hat Tip, Lionel Deimel.20 Comments
Updated Sunday afternoon
Episcopal News Service Canterbury proposes resignation of ecumenical commission members
From the blogs:
Cif belief Mark Vernon The Anglican Communion falters, again
Tony Clavier PENTECOST LETTER
Episcopal Café What kind of Pentecost?
Wounded Bird THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S PENTECOST LETTER
Caminante Twenty-four hours later20 Comments
Kelvin Holdsworth, the provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, preached this Sermon for Affirmation Scotland at Pentecost.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Consider the bees, not the wasps.
Ian Bradley writes in a Face to faith column in The Guardian that Liberals must stand together. Liberals across all faiths should create a coalition to turn the fundamentalist tide.
Francisco J. Ayala writes in The Guardian that Religion has nothing to do with science – and vice versa
Maggi Dawn writes about the acceptance of gay clergy in the inside view.
This week’s The Question at The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is What is theology? Is it all just pointless talk about a non-existent being?
Here are the responses.
Monday: Tina Beattie A bulwark against ignorance. To do theology well is to empower people to resist religion’s co-option by the powers of fanaticism and violence.
Tuesday: Terry Sanderson Theology – truly a naked emperor. In the words of Robert A Heinlein, ‘Theology … is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there.’
Thursday: Nick Spencer Theology illuminates reality. Theology would be worth studying even if God did not exist for then it would tell us about our deepest selves.
Friday: Michael McGhee A critical eye on theology. Whatever else they do, the scriptures, like any other literature, reveal the unconscious ambivalences of their writers.
Terry Sanderson’s article above has prompted this from Andrew Brown: Making sense of Rowan Williams. Theology isn’t trying to produce scientific knowledge. We can all agree on that. But what other sorts of knowledge are there?11 Comments
Updated 3 June
See earlier reports here.
Neil Addison notes that a relevant bit of history is contained in paragraph 16, see here.
The next hearing in the case will be at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 30 June.
The Italian Government has submitted a brief (PDF), which is so far only available in French.
Several other parties have filed Amicus Curiae briefs in this case. Here are links to some of them.
The European Centre for Law and Justice has filed a brief (PDF).
See their press release: The ECLJ Admitted as Amicus Curiae in the Italian Crucifix Case Before the European Court of Human Rights.
The American-based Alliance Defense Fund has submitted a brief (PDF) on behalf of 32 members of the European Parliament.
See their press release: Court grants ADF request to allow 32 members of European Parliament to defend Italy in cross case.
Another American-based group, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has also filed a brief (PDF) prepared by a team of 37 law professors.
See their press release: 37 Law Professors Urge European Court to Reject Ruling Banning Cross from Italian Classrooms.
As there are a number of people, even bishops, who have expressed criticism of this event, it may be helpful to link to the Order of Service that was followed.
It is in a PDF file, available here.
Direct links to the video recordings are also available from this page.54 Comments
Thursday 27 May 2010
The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the statement made by the Anglican Bishops in Southern Africa regarding the sentencing of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga to 14 years of hard labour.
This Statement from the Anglican Bishops in Southern African on the Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga…
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion.
The press release about it, together with Notes to Editors is reproduced in full below the fold.29 Comments
The Bishop of Durham has addressed his last diocesan synod. He had a lot to say about women bishops and about Anglican Communion matters. Read the full text at Diocese of Durham: Diocesan Synod, May 21 2010. Two extracts follow:
On women bishops:
…It therefore doesn’t surprise me that the discussion over women bishops has run into such difficulty. As you know, I have argued strongly and scripturally for the propriety of ordaining women to each order of ministry; my colours have been nailed to that mast for a long time. And I have argued, again and again, in line with successive Lambeth resolutions, that this is something the whole church has said it can live with but need not impose on everyone – though I am very well aware of the particular problem this poses. In other words, this has not been an innovation, carried out by rogue provinces who declare on their own local authority that this is adiaphora and can therefore be decided by them alone. It has been debated and decided by the whole church meeting in solemn conclave. That doesn’t, of course, make it any easier when the decision is passed down from Lambeth to Canterbury and York, which is where we now are. But it does tell us that the church as a whole has said that this matter is adiaphora: that it ought not to be something over which the church needs to divide.
I know, very well, that for some the issue is that Lambeth cannot decide such a thing while Rome, and perhaps also Constantinople, remains uninvolved. The obvious reply is that while Rome still officially treats Anglican orders as ‘absolutely null and utterly void’ it is hard to give them a veto on what we do with those orders, and that if we went that route we should have to return to the celibate priesthood and embrace the Papal dogmas. These are just as mandatory in Rome as male-only ordination, and I don’t know of a sustained argument as to why Anglicans who insist that only when Rome changes will we be allowed to do the same should be allowed to disagree with Rome on these other points. If there is an implicit hierarchy of truths there, I have yet to hear it articulated. However, like many bishops who are in principle committed to the ordination of women to the episcopate I do not think I have yet seen the scheme which would enable us to proceed as one body, without further and deepening division, without straining one another’s consciences. All ministry, according to St Paul, is given to serve the unity of the church, not to divide it. That is especially true of the ministry of Bishops. I hope and pray we will be able to square that circle, and I would rather get the right answer in two or three years’ time than the wrong one tomorrow. I really do believe that ordaining women is the right thing to do; but St Paul’s insistence on how adiaphora works prohibits me from forcing it on those who in conscience are not ready for it. And the answer here, I believe, is a proper theological argument, which we have not yet had. The Rochester report has never been properly discussed.
My hope and plea, then, is that this summer in General Synod, and in the months that follow whatever happens there, we will observe restraint and patience with one another, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. As followers of Jesus, invoking his Spirit at Pentecost, we should expect to have demands made on our charity, our forgiveness and our patience; not on our conscience. That is the key to how adiaphora works in the church.
And on TEC and the Anglican Covenant:
…And that, too, is why recent events in America are placing an ever greater strain on the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is, I believe, in the process of writing a pastoral letter to all the churches, and I don’t want to pre-empt what he will say. But the point is this. Unlike the situation with children and Communion; unlike the situation with the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate; in the case of sexual relations outside the marriage of a man and a woman, the church as a whole, in all its global meetings not least the Lambeth Conference, has solidly and consistently reaffirmed the clear and unambiguous teaching of the New Testament. But the substantive issue isn’t the point here. The point is that the Church as a whole has never declared these matters to be adiaphora. This isn’t something a Bishop, a parish, a diocese, or a province can declare on its own authority. You can’t simply say that you have decided that this is something we can all agree to differ on. Nobody can just ‘declare’ that. The step from mandatory to optional can never itself be a local option, and the Church as a whole has declared that the case for that step has not been made. By all means let us have the debate. But, as before, it must be a proper theological debate, not a postmodern exchange of prejudices.
Actually, if you want to know about the present state of the church in America you ought to watch the video of last Saturday’s service in Los Angeles, which is readily available on the web. The problems, shall we say, are not about one issue only. But my point for today is this. In November the newly elected General Synod will be asked to approve the Anglican Covenant, which has been through a long and thorough process of drafting, debate, redrafting, polishing and refining. Synod will be asked to send the Covenant to the Dioceses for approval, and all being well it should be with you, the Synod of this Diocese, by the end of the year, and you will be asked to think wisely and clearly about it. No doubt it isn’t perfect. But it is designed, not (as some have suggested) to close down debate or squash people into a corner, but precisely to create the appropriate space for appropriate debate in which issues of all sorts can be handled without pre-emptive strikes on the one hand or closed-minded defensiveness on the other. The Covenant is designed to recognise and work with the principle of adiaphora; and that requires that it should create a framework within which the church can be the church even as it wrestles with difficult issues, and through which the church can be united even as it is battered by forces that threaten to tear it apart. Some of the voices raised against the Covenant today are, in my judgment, voices raised against the biblical vision of how unity is accomplished and sustained, the vision which enables us to discern what is adiaphora and what is not. I hope and pray that this diocese at least will appreciate where the real issues lie, and think and live wisely and cheerfully in relation to them.
Also Martin Beckford reports in the Telegraph that
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, called repeated demands for Criminal Records Bureau checks a “waste of time” and claimed they are solely designed to create a “paper trail” rather than safeguarding the vulnerable.
He also condemned the weight of legislation created by the recent Labour government, saying that new rules and regulations do not make for a better society…
Read the full report at Bishop of Durham criticises ‘time-wasting paper trail’ of Criminal Record Bureau checks.16 Comments
The Bishops of the Church of Southern Africa have responded to the recent events in Malawi.
We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa call upon the Government of South Africa to seek the release of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently sentenced in Malawi to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour, after they shared in a traditional ceremony of engagement.
As we have previously stated, though there is a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we are united in opposing the criminalisation of homosexual people. We see the sentence that has been handed down to these two individuals as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such sentences and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity…
Read the full text of their statement.
See also their earlier statement about Uganda.8 Comments
Bishop Tom Butler spoke on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day on Tuesday, about how people change their minds on issues such as divorce and remarriage, or homosexuality.
The press has been remarking on Theresa May’s response to a question from a member of the Question Time audience, about the new home secretary’s apparently less than gay-friendly voting record . Her reply: “I’ve changed my mind”.
I don’t think that she’s alone in that. It’s remarkable to observe how, in spite of traditional religious teaching, public opinion in Britain over a period of a decade or so, in a remarkable shift of thinking has mostly changed its mind on the worth and place of gay people in society. The reason is simple: it’s difficult to hold dogmatic views about what is good and desirable behaviour, when some of the often obviously good, loving and responsible people you actually encounter are behaving in an alternative way…
Read the full text here.17 Comments
We linked to the announcement on 28 April of the Church Commissioners’ results for 2009 here. Their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009 have now been published, and summarised in an official press release, copied below.
Helping parishes and dioceses across the Church of England: Church Commissioners publish 2009 Report & Accounts
25 May 2010
The Church Commissioners today publish their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009.
It follows publication of their 2009 annual results on 28 April, when they announced that they had achieved a 15.6 per cent return on their investments during 2009. The fund outperformed its comparator group over the last year as well as over the past five, 10 and 20 years.*
The results mean that the Commissioners’ current level of support to the Church – including increased pensions costs – can be maintained, in cash terms, for a further three-year period, from 2011 to 2013.
The Commissioners’ asset value has grown to £4.8 billion (from £4.4 billion at 31 December 2008), and the fund has been able to distribute £31 million more each year to the Church than if the investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years. The 15.6 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 15.1 per cent for 2009.
The Report shows that annual spending on the Church of England’s mission and ministry is just over £1.2 billion. Around three quarters of this sum comes from dioceses and parishes, mostly through the giving of Church members.
In 2009 the Commissioners contributed £193 million – around 16 pence in every pound – of these costs. The Commissioners’ spending for parish-level work reflects their long-standing commitment to supporting the Church’s ministry where there are needs and opportunities. This support breaks down into two key funding streams – clergy pensions; and a wide range of support for different aspects of the serving ministry.
“The Church Commissioners have had a satisfactory first decade of the twenty-first century”, writes the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, in his introduction to the Report. “The bottom line is that the Commissioners’ assets grew at an annual rate of 5.1 per cent, two percentage points better than the average fund and 2.4 per cent faster than inflation or, in other words, by 2.4 per cent per annum in real terms.”
The Commissioners have distributed £31 million more each year to the Church for the past 10 years than if their investments had performed only at the industry average. They operate a distributions policy that smoothes fluctuations in the financial markets, with the aim of providing stable support to their beneficiaries.
The Church Commissioners manage an investment portfolio of £4.8 billion derived from the Church’s historic resources. They play a vital role in supporting the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community by looking after this as a long-term resource, balancing the needs of both current and future generations.
The First Commissioner added: “Don’t let it be thought that the Assets Committee and the staff who carry out the day-to-day work of managing our general fund are at all complacent about the Commissioners’ performance. As well as managing the general fund so as to produce increasing returns without undue risk and in line with ethical considerations, the Commissioners also have to decide how best to meet the needs of their beneficiaries.
“The first step is to declare how much may be distributed during successive three-year periods on the footing that the value of the fund in real terms is maintained through time. This leads to a second question: how best to smooth these distributions so that beneficiaries are not subjected to unsettling volatility in their support from the Commissioners.”
The Commissioners’ total charitable expenditure in 2009 was £190.8 million (£189.1 million in 2008). Total non-pensions expenditure, including support for ministry within dioceses and for the ministry of bishops and cathedrals, totalled £81.6 million in 2009 (£84.8 million), following a reduction in bishops’ and other administrative costs of £3.5 million. Governance costs and other resources expended were £1.8 million in 2009 (£3.6 million).
Dioceses have welcomed the mission development funding for giving them flexibility outside their normal budgetary commitments. It has given them headroom for risk-taking and creativity to enable churches to experiment with different forms of engagement with their communities. Examples include the appointment of a sports ambassador in Southwell and Nottingham diocese, and of a pioneer minister attached to Gloucester cathedral, who has helped build a new church community of 60 starting from none.
“Our task is to develop proposals on how best the Commissioners’ funds should be used to advance the Church’s mission”, Mr Whittam Smith concluded. “We don’t start with a clean sheet. Some distributions are determined by legislation. Other long established distributions are quite properly relied upon by recipients. Substantial sums are made available to poorer dioceses. Yet alongside these existing dispositions, new funding for mission is already bearing fruit.”
Continued below the fold0 Comments
We linked earlier to the report of the revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops, and the accompanying draft measure and canon. These papers have now been reissued in standard synod form.
GS 1708-09Y Revision Committee Report Women in the Episcopate
GS 1708A draft Women in the Episcopate measure
GS 1709A Amending Canon No 30
GS 1708AX Explanatory Memorandum to the draft Measure as revised in committee
The last of these is new. It has been prepared by the Legal Office and explains the effect of each clause of the draft measure in understandable, lay language.
There is also a paper from the Business Committee explaining how the draft legislation will be handled at the July meeting of General Synod (and subsequently) and an outline agenda for July.37 Comments
Today’s Observer newspaper carries this editorial article:
The church must not be complicit in gay persecution in Africa
with a strapline on the web version:
Anglican influence must be brought to bear to end this vile practice.
The article begins:
Homosexuality is not a sin or a crime. There is no caveat or quibble that should be added. The repression of gay men and women by legal means and public intimidation is an offence against the basic principles of a free and just society. Where it exists, which it does to varying degrees in many countries around the world, it must be confronted and defeated…
And the article ends:
The Anglican hierarchy in Britain has avoided speaking out too frankly on this matter to avoid a schism, but the church’s quiet diplomacy has done nothing to help the victims of homophobic repression. Increasingly, it looks like complicity.
For the background to this, see Love in the dock from Saturday’s Guardian.18 Comments
Theo Hobson in The Guardian writes about A new recipe for Christianity. Pete Rollins, frustrated with institutional Christianity, has used poetry, song and performance art to rethink religion.
Andrew Brown in The Guardian asks Is Henry VIII in hell? Rowan Williams wonders whether Henry VIII is in hell now, and talks about the Christian reaction to the triumphs of tyranny.
Christopher Howse asks a similar question in the Telegraph: Has Rowan Williams damned Henry VIII to hell? King Henry VIII might be in hell, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the other day in a sermon.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church times about Teasing out the morality of coalition.
Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in The Guardian Vatican II: Benedict rewrites history. At a speech in Portugal Pope Benedict gave us a rare insight into his feelings about the second Vatican council.
Rebecca Paveley writes in the Times that The bishops won’t go quietly in the struggle over Lords’ reform. The campaign for a fully elected Upper House would mean an end to their presence. So is Parliament still accountable to God or have clergymen in politics become an anachronism?
This week’s The Question at The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is Who can claim Newman? Cardinal Newman was the greatest English Catholic of the Victorian age. But whose side would he be on today?
Here are the responses.
Monday: Hugh O’Shaughnessy An example for reform. Newman said ‘To live is to change’. A timely reminder to those churchmen who love power and the status quo.
Tuesday: Luke Coppen Newman’s universal message. Gandhi’s love of Newman’s hymn ‘Lead, kindly Light’ proves that the cardinal is not just for Catholics.
Thursday: Martin Pendergast Newman’s democratic church. Newman’s legacy is an inclusive, diverse church, with a theology rooted in the practices of the community.
Friday: Francis Davis A distracting debate. Catholics often fight their present battles using scripts from the past. But this pretence is a waste of time.
I have not so far linked to the detailed Church Times report on the latest judgment, written by Shiranikha Herbert and published on 7 May. Here it is: McFarlane’s appeal is refused.
In the same issue, there was a news report headlined Bishops criticise ‘secular’ judgment.
And Andrew Brown devoted most of the Press column to this: The Lord and the Law Lord.
Even earlier Carl Gardner had written on his own blog, on 30 April Short shrift for Lord Carey.
And the day before, Heresy Corner had published Laying down the Laws.4 Comments
Updated again Thursday morning
The Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is linked to the Anglican Communion by its affiliation with the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda, has announced an intention to change the form of its relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.
Read the details in Special Report: Anglican Mission’s Structural Relationship within the ACNA.
…As a founding member of the ACNA, the Anglican Mission has invested significant time and energy into its formation and has been strongly supportive of the Province and Archbishop Duncan’s leadership. In light of this support, the Anglican Mission initially chose the jurisdictional option for membership in the ACNA while maintaining its identity as a missionary outreach of Rwanda. This “dual citizenship” approach, however, has resulted in significant confusion within the Anglican Mission and the ACNA regarding membership in two provinces, and more importantly, is inconsistent with the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Anglican Church in Rwanda. Practically speaking, this jurisdictional/membership status became untenable and non-sustainable.
Given these circumstances, both the Anglican Mission’s Council of Bishops and the Rwanda House of Bishops has unanimously agreed that the Anglican Mission will apply for Ministry Partner status at next month’s ACNA Council meeting. This revised status, if approved in Boston, will allow the Anglican Mission to maintain a level of connection to the North American Province, even though the missionary movement will remain under the spiritual and canonical authority of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. It also allows for the Anglican Mission to continue to function as a missionary movement committed to church planting as we have for the last decade. Finally, this decision will serve to overcome the inherent confusion that has arisen, and we view a transition to Ministry Partner status as a positive development for all concerned…
And an interesting conservative analysis in the comments of this report.
A fuller version of the ACNA email can be found here. This notes:
Other Ministry Partners within the Anglican Church in North America include:
- American Anglican Council
- Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans – North America
- Forward in Faith-North America
- Federation of Anglican Churches in America [FACA]
Doug LeBlanc wrote in the Living Church Lambeth Silent after Glasspool Consecration.
Tobias Haller wrote about The Pluperfect Mindset.
Savi Hensman wrote at Cif belief Mary Glasspool is ordained.
Jim Naughton asked at Episcopal Café What if we are asked to dis-invite ourselves again?31 Comments
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued this statement this afternoon.
Women in the episcopate – House of Bishops’ statement
At its meeting in York on 17/18 May, the House of Bishops discussed the Revision Committee’s report on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops.
The House noted that the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod in July would be a key moment in the legislative process when all 470 members of Synod would have the opportunity to debate the report and proceed to a clause by clause consideration of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. The House believed that the Synod would be helped in its task by the clarity and thoroughness of the Committee’s analysis.
As previous debates have shown, a majority of the members of the House strongly support the admission of women to the episcopate. At the same time there remains a strong commitment on the part of the House to preserve an honoured place within the Church of England for those unable to receive this development. There continues to be a variety of views within the House over the best way of achieving that, while enabling women fully to exercise their new ministry.
The July Synod has the potential to be one of the most demanding meetings of the Synod for many years. It will, in the view of the House, be an occasion when all concerned will need to listen with particular care to those with views that differ from their own and to acknowledge the passion and sincerity with which those views are held.
The House is aware that there are those who believe that the present legislative process does not have the potential to lead to a satisfactory conclusion and that a better outcome is more likely to be achieved in some years’ time. Most members of the House consider, however, that it is crucial to keep faith with the present process. They see no grounds for believing that the issues with which the Church is grappling will become significantly easier to resolve with the passage of time.
The July debates will provide the chance for the full Synod to decide whether it wishes to make significant changes to the draft legislation, including whether to retain an approach based on a statutory code of practice or to support amendments giving effect to some other approach. What happens thereafter will depend on what Synod decides. On any basis it will be at least another two years before the mind of the Church of England can be determined at the final approval stage.
The House accepted the recommendation of the Revision Committee that, if the proposal for a statutory code of practice is retained in July, work to develop a fresh draft of the code should start soon thereafter. The House will, in those circumstances, establish a group, constituted consistently with the Committee’s recommendation.
The report of the Revision Committee was published on 8 May.
Updated again Saturday
Michael Perham, the bishop of Gloucester, gave an address about the Anglican Communion to his clergy on 6 May 2010. Here is an extract.
I think there are some things here we need to explore sensitively together. In doing so I want to acknowledge the honesty and courage of my friend, James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, who has publicly told his own story of moving his position on the issue of homosexuality over recent years and urged the Church not to allow this issue to divide us in a way that breaks communion. And I also need to acknowledge that I have long been in a different place and so have not had to travel as difficult a path as he has to be in the place where I now am. My own understanding has long been that the Church of England’s current stance is not tenable long term, but that, while we engage, struggle, with these issues, it must be task of the bishop to uphold our agreed policy, with all its weaknesses, and to try to hold the Church together while we tackle the things that divide us. I don’t believe I can move away from that position, though I need to share with you some of my discomfort.
It is difficult to know where to begin, but I think the best place is with the categorising of first and second order issues. I am quite clear that the issues on which the creeds make a firm statement – God as trinity, the divinity of Christ, the death and the resurrection of the Lord, the role of the Spirit and more – are first order issues on which there can be no change in what the Church teaches. They are fundamental to the Christian faith. I am equally clear that there are second order issues, which are important, and where interpretation of the tradition needs to be careful and prayerful, but where nevertheless individual churches and provinces need to be free to define doctrine in the way that seems to them to be in accordance with the mind of Christ.
The full address is a 40kB Word document and can be downloaded here: Bishop Michael’s address on the Anglican Communion. Read the whole address for Bishop Michael’s views on first and second order issues, the Episcopal Church, his own diocesan triangular partnership with Western Tanganyika and El Camino Real, the Anglican covenant, and the status in England of clergy ordained abroad by a woman bishop.
For Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves’ comments on this, see below the fold.29 Comments