Thinking Anglicans

African bishops conference: funding

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa has made the following announcement:


This is to follow up the need for clarification on the grant that CAPA received from Trinity in regard to the All Africa Bishops Conference organized by CAPA and hosted by the Church of Uganda (COU). The Church of Uganda was not happy that it was associated with this grant. This is to certify that the Church of Uganda was not the recipient of this grant. The Church of Uganda because of the ongoing disagreement on the doctrinal issues with the Anglican Communion severed its partnership with TEC and its related organs. CAPA Secretariat respects the position of the Church of Uganda with integrity and it is in this spirit that an apology was made to COU. Within the CAPA family however there are Provinces who have continued to partner with TEC and its related agencies in development programs despite their disapproval of TEC’s actions. The CAPA secretariat has the obligation to work and accompany all the member Provinces. In this regard the grant partly made it possible for those bishops from financially challenged dioceses to travel to the conference.

H/T to Episcopal Café which also has links to the background materials here.


Cardinal Kasper dropped from Papal entourage

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the former head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is well known to Anglicans. But today he appears to have committed a blunder. But what exactly did he really say?

Press reports:

Guardian Pope’s visit: aide steps aside after comparing Britain to ‘third world’ and later, Pope Benedict XVI flies in amid row over aide’s race remarks

Telegraph Pope visit: Cardinal drops out after calling UK ‘Third World’


Andrew Brown Cardinal Kasper reveals the Vatican’s true beliefs

Catholic Voices has Bishops’ conference distants itself from Cardinal Kasper remarks

“The attributed comments of Cardinal Kasper do not represent the views of the Vatican, nor those of bishops in this country. Clearly, they are the personal views of one individual. Catholics play a full part in this country’s life and welcome the rich diversity of thought, culture and people which is so evident here. This historic visit marks a further development of the good relationship between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. We are confident that it will be a huge success.”

Catholic News Service quotes Fr Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, at length, in Church spokesmen downplay German cardinal’s remarks about Britain

At the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman, also issued a statement to clarify the cardinal’s comments, which he said “have no negative intention and do not reflect any lack of appreciation for the United Kingdom.”

He said the cardinal “wanted to refer to the fact that from the moment of one’s arrival at London’s airport — as happens in many great cities of the world today, but in London in particular for its unique historic role as capital of the United Kingdom — one is aware from the very beginning that one finds oneself in a country in which many human realities from diverse origins and conditions arrive and encounter each other: a cosmopolitan reality, a crucible of modern humanity, with its differences and its problems.”

Father Lombardi added: “As far as the reference to atheism, he was referring evidently to the positions of some noted authors who are particularly aggressive and who cover themselves with scientific or cultural arguments, but which in reality don’t have the value that they claim. This doesn’t mean, naturally, that Cardinal Kasper is unaware that these positions and trends are limited, or that he does not recognize the great values of the British culture.”

The closest I have found so far to an actual quote from the article, in German, is below the fold. From this page.



some Anglican views of the Papal visit

Christopher Hill, who is Bishop of Guildford and chairman of the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph Pope visit: Anglicans and Catholics can share a mission.

…My hopes as an Anglican bishop are twofold. Pope Benedict is a formidable philosopher and theologian. He has spent much of his ministry analysing the ebb-tide of faith in modern Europe. This is also a matter Archbishop Rowan Williams has devoted much attention to.

Instead of slogans on buses pressing an atheist cause, or the reverse, I hope the visit will promote real dialogue between those of faith, those in doubt and those who deny.

Secondly, Pope Benedict will meet his bishops and the Church of England bishops at Lambeth Palace. Anglican and Catholic bishops regularly meet but doing so with the Bishop of Rome will, I believe, reinforce and further encourage our common mission. Differences will remain but what we have in common far outweighs them.

At the grass-roots level, SueM blogged about Protest, prejudice – and the Pope.

I am looking forward to the Pope’s visit to the UK. For a start I am interested to see what reactions it will actually evoke among the British people and in the media. I am expecting to see hostility, appreciation and indifference, but I am not sure which of these reactions will predominate. Another thing that I am looking forward to is the variety of programmes, news articles and radio discussions focusing on the Papal visit. I think that some of these may serve to raise some interesting questions, not only about the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, but also about the changing role and nature of religion in British society and the huge shift we have seen in attitudes to religious faith and institutionalised religion.

I understand the reasons why many people object to the attitudes and approach of the Roman Catholic (and Anglican) church…

I am hoping the level of coverage (and even protest) that we see will be proportionate, sensible and balanced. I do expect that we will see some excellent and challenging debate; I hope we will not see too much anti Catholic prejudice, disrespect or ignorance, but I won’t be surprised if we do!

Church Mouse writing in An Anglican response to the Papal visit offers four principles for Anglicans:

1. Despite some theological differences, we should treat the Roman Catholic church as our brothers and sisters in Christ, and as such we should share the experience of the visit with them in the spirit of Christian unity.

2. We should not seek to “take sides” in any of the Catholic debates on reforms of the Church. It would be unhelpful to all within the Catholic Church if one side was seen to be ‘backed’ by sections of the Church of England, not to mention hypocritical on our part, given the divisions in our own Church.

3. We should defend the Catholic Church and the Pope from the more extreme anti-Christian attacks on him, which are in reality attacks on all Christians. Bishop Christopher Hill explained that “Today’s opposition focuses on Pope Benedict, gaining some support in the light of the terrible cases of clerical abuse, but intellectually it represents an attack on all Christians, indeed on faith.” Mouse reckons that is true to a large extent, as the most viscous attacks are not based on reason and logic, but on hatred.

4. We should use the opportunity afforded by the visit to move discussion of the Ordinariate from behind closed doors to out in the open. Mouse’s guess is that there are very few people who will be leaving the Church of England under the scheme, but to have the threat held beneath the surface is damaging to the church.


Five Minutes with the Pope

The Tablet has had a series of articles in recent weeks under this title, in which a wide range of people have written about what they would say to the Pope in a short one-on-one meeting. Here we reproduce, with the editor’s permission, two of them.

‘I would like to wash your feet, but not before I have stood up first’

In her imaginary private audience with Pope Benedict, Lucy Winkett, a senior Anglican priest, tackles the subject of the ordination of women in the Church of England head on.

I am aware that you believe my ordination is a serious barrier between us, but I hope we could discuss what unites us in wanting to live an apostolic life. I want to learn from you what you would say are the characteristics and hallmarks of that life. For myself, it’s Christ’s actions at the Last Supper – and if I could, I would love to discuss this with you.

How do you interpret the tradition that Jesus took the bread first eaten by slaves on the run in the Passover story and identified himself so closely with them that he became this bread? The cup is the cup of suffering that he asked to be passed from him, the cup that he offered to James and John when they vied for seats of honour in heaven. One of the aspects that moves me about that evening was that Jesus knelt and washed his disciples’ feet, but not before his own feet had been washed and anointed by the woman from the city. When Christ stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth and read from Isaiah, he was echoing the song of Mary in her Magnificat and, as such, he showed himself to be highly responsive to the example and ministry of women. He was not only his Father’s son, he was his mother’s son too. In this spirit, I would like to find a way to wash your feet, but not before I have stood up first.

Women’s apostolic path is, in this way, different from men’s. Women have to find a way to live a redeemed humility, not a humility based on the nature of a victim or a doormat. Social expectations, particularly within the family, mean that women’s default mode of relating is of self-sacrifice. This is a noble way to live but only if it is chosen, not enforced.

Women’s path to salvation is one that involves standing before we kneel, learning to accept ourselves and delight, as does Holy Wisdom, in the nature of human beings, before choosing to serve others as a sacrifice freely given.

I am not going to try to tell you what it’s actually like to be a woman and a priest, or about the nature of the calling I believe with all my heart I am following, unless you want to know. These personal experiences are vital but they pale before the fundamental truth that God in Christ is taken, blessed, broken and given for the life of a suffering world. Women, half of humanity, take their place alongside men in being a sign and symbol of the risen Christ at the altar when we celebrate the Eucharist. When I celebrate the Eucharist, I am not taking part in a re-enactment of an action by Jesus of Nazareth. I am being caught up in the eschatological foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

The ontological difference in gender between me and Jesus of Nazareth, just as fundamental as the differences ethnically between Gentile men and Jesus the Jew, are not material. It is our common humanity, not our gender differences, that define and dignify our attempts to live such an apostolic life.

I regret deeply that we are not united, but the truth is that, with or without your permission, as a woman and a fellow human being, I walk respectfully with you as a disciple of Jesus Christ and a priest in God’s universal Church.

  • The Revd Canon Lucy Winkett is rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London.

‘Churchmen aren’t at all happy to see gay couples happy’

If you had a one-to-one meeting with the Pope, what would you talk to him about? In the third of our series, the church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch tackles His Holiness on homosexuality and Catholicism.

Given my five minutes with Pope Benedict, I would ask him if he’s ever spent any time with a gay couple. I don’t mean the large number of silently gay Catholic clergy under vows of celibacy, who are not unknown even in the corridors of the Vatican; I mean two people who have met socially, spent time getting to know each other, found that it’s a lot of fun being with the other person, had rows, made up, gone to parties, done the shopping, been polite to each other’s dull relatives, had a good laugh with the unexpectedly entertaining eccentric aunt, and at the end of a day of pleasant trivia, have turned off their bedside lights side by side? And have perhaps done that over months, years, decades, initially despite the huge amount of social pressure to split up and fade into the background of other people’s social and moral expectations.

Has His Holiness sat down with them over a coffee or a beer and discovered how intrinsically ordinary they are? Because if he hasn’t, I don’t think he’s got much business calling them intrinsically disordered.

I think what might disconcert him about such an experience would be that such couples don’t have any problems, at least problems no different from those of other couples, or of human beings generally. The Church rather likes claiming a pastoral ministry to lesbian and gay people, because it sees them as having a basic problem that needs pastoral care. And the Church has been very good at setting up problems for gay people which it can then solve. It has demanded that they feel guilty if they ever enact their feelings for another person of the same sex in a physical way – then it can deal with the guilt. Churchmen really aren’t at all happy to see gay couples happy; it breaks all the rules and of course encourages others to do the same things. Who knows where it will all end? Gay teenagers cheerful, contented and fulfilled? Or at least making the same stupid mistakes as any other teenagers?

But perhaps the Pope will surprise us all on his visit. He is, after all, planning to beatify Cardinal Newman, a distinguished theologian who patently found a way within the conventions of his time of having a deep, committed relationship with another man, Ambrose St John. It was the primary relationship in both their lives and that was expressed by their single grave in death. Because they were both priests committed to clerical celibacy, I don’t suppose that they did much that was physical to express their relationship, and I don’t think that I would greatly care even if there were proof that they did. It really isn’t that important. The relationship matters. For those who aren’t nineteenth-century celibates, there are different means of celebrating such a relationship, and I can’t imagine that the God of love is too worried about the details of what they are.

  • Diarmaid MacCulloch is professor of the history of the Church and a fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, and author of A History of Christianity, published by Allen Lane.

The Equality Act and Women in the Episcopate

Back in June, I wrote an article for the Church Times, Equality Law will affect church appointments. This is a more detailed look at the same subject, with particular reference to the draft legislation on women bishops that is about to be referred to the dioceses of the Church of England.

That draft measure, GS 1708A as amended by synod in July, contains the following clause:

7 Equality Act exceptions

(1) Section 50(1), (2), (3), (6) and (7) of the Equality Act 2010 (2010 c. 15) (“the Equality Act”) do not apply so far as they relate to sex or religion or belief, in relation to —

(a) any arrangements contained in a scheme made by the bishop of a diocese under section 2,

(b) any request made by a parochial church council under section 3(1) or (3),

(c) any arrangements set out in a notice sent to the secretary of a parochial church council by the bishop of a diocese under section 3(8),

(d) any action taken in exercising functions relating to the appointment of a priest in order to take account of a request made by a parochial church council under section 3(3), and

(e) any provision in a Code of Practice made under section 5.

(2) Subsection (1) is without prejudice to Schedule 9 to the Equality Act

Section 50 of the Equality Act 2010 deals with the particular topic of Public offices: appointments, etc. Under the Equality Act, a Public office is defined as:

a) an office or post, appointment to which is made by a member of the executive;

(b) an office or post, appointment to which is made on the recommendation of, or subject to the approval of, a member of the executive;

(c) an office or post, appointment to which is made on the recommendation of, or subject to the approval of, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the National Assembly for Wales or the Scottish Parliament.

Clearly, this definition encompasses all Crown appointments, which within the Church of England includes among many others all appointments to bishoprics.

Section 50 goes on to specify the various ways in which discrimination is prohibited in relation to such appointments. For example:

(a) in the arrangements A makes for deciding to whom to offer the appointment;

(b) as to the terms on which A offers B the appointment;

(c) by not offering B the appointment.

It is self-evident that several provisions in the draft legislation are, and are intended to be, discriminatory against women appointees. See, for example, the references to a “male bishop” in the text. Unless a clause along the lines of Clause 7 is included in the draft measure, there will be a clear conflict with Clause 50 of the Act. It is worth noting, perhaps, that this requirement is entirely separate from, and in no way impinges on, the various exemptions for religious organisations which are enumerated in Schedule 9 of the Act.

It is also worth noting that the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, and the former MP, Robert Key, both issued warnings to synod during the debate that even with, or perhaps because of, Clause 7, the draft measure might face opposition in Parliament. See my earlier report women bishops and equality legislation.



William Rees-Mogg writes for the Mail Online about Cardinal John Newman, a hero who restored our faith in truth.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Cardinal Newman: The Victorian celebrity intellectual who brought Benedict to Britain.

The New Statesman has profiled Christianity’s top 11 most controversial figures.

Alan Wilson continues his series in The Guardian with The Book of Common Prayer, part 3: An excellent mystery of coupling. “With the Book of Common Prayer, marriage takes its place at the heart of domestic and civil society.”

Robin G Jordan at Anglicans Ablaze asks How really Anglican is the ACNA?

Christopher Howse asks in the Telegraph What’s the point of St Sebastian?

Madeleine Bunting writes in The Guardian that The Catholic church is in crisis, but it is still able to influence and inspire. “The pope’s visit to Britain will prompt some noisy protests, but despite that opposition he deserves to be heard.”

Rupert Shortt writes in The Tablet So far and yet so near, a comparison of Pope Benedict and Archbishop Rowan Williams. [Shortt has written biographies of both men.]

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Repentance is like going home.


Church Times on the papal visit

A few weeks ago, the Dean of Westminster wrote an article. See A chance to recall the nation’s Christian roots.

The Pope’s visit could help to emphasise how the state can engage with the Churches, argues John Hall

This week there is a news report, Pope’s state visit won’t be a fishing trip, says Nichols.

THE Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, has said that the Pope will not be “fishing” for Anglicans when he comes to Britain next week.

Pope Benedict XVI will meet the Archbishop of Canterbury next week during the first state visit by a pope to the UK, and the first papal visit for 28 years.

Archbishop Nichols told the BBC that there were “delicate and difficult issues” between his Church and the Church of England. But there would be no “harsh words” between the two church leaders during next week’s visit. The Pope’s creation of an Or­dinariate for those who chose to leave the Anglican Church was made only in response to repeated re­quests.

“Sometimes, people want to say, ‘Oh, this is the initiative of the Pope, who is going fishing for Anglicans.’ That is not true. He is responding to requests that he has received, and those requests we have to handle sensitively on both sides. There are delicate, difficult issues between our two Churches at the moment.”

And there is a Leader, English lesson for Pope Benedict.

…The interest in Pope Benedict’s visit is there, too, but it stems, in part, from negative sources. In place of the Revd Ian Paisley and Pastor Jack Glass will stand, physically or metaphorically, Peter Tatchell and Richard Dawkins, criticising not the brand of Christianity represented by the Pope, but the whole Christian edifice. Where ecumenical endeavour has failed, ignorance has triumphed, so that divisions within the Church are largely unperceived by the general public. The Pope’s views are taken to be the views of all, just as the crimes of a few Roman Catholic priests have cast a shadow over all…


Christina Baxter interviewed

The Church of Ireland Gazette reports:

Christina Baxter, the Chair of the Church of England General Synod’s House of Laity, Principal of St John’s Theological College in Nottingham and a lay canon of Southwell, has paid tribute to those preparing for ordination in the Church of Ireland. In an interview with the Gazette editor during a visit at the end of August to the Diocese of Down and Dromore, where she led the Bishop’s Bible Week, Dr Baxter said that the Church of Ireland ordinands were all doing a professional certificate through St John’s College, which prepared them for Master’s level training. She said she had been working with the Church of Ireland Theological Institute Principal, Dr Maurice Elliott, on these arrangements.

For the full interview, go to this page.

Her views on the progress of English legislation on Women in the Episcopate may be of interest.


Diocese of Guildford visits Nigeria

According to the Nigerian provincial website:


The Archbishop, metropolitan and primate of all Nigeria Anglican communion The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh has again re-iterated his assurance of unalloyed cooperation and partnership with people who have complete faith and confidence in the undiluted word of God.

Archbishop Okoh stated this during a courtesy visit paid to him by a team of 7 visitors from the Diocese of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill and his wife Hilary. He said the challenge the communion is facing at the moment is that of a section of the West who are promoting homosexuality, Lesbianism and approving liturgy for same sex marriage. He said this is an issue that must be seriously addressed if the communion must sustain the unity and oneness that had existed over the years.

The Primate, after reading a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered by the Bishop of Guildford re-echoed the respect the church of Nigeria has for his office and his person and promised that a high powered delegation would visit the Lambeth palace later in the year to discuss issues of serious concern with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The team also visited the General Secretary of the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) the Venerable Michael Oluwarohunbi who called their attention to the Youth as an indispensable tool, when he observed that in the 7-man team no Youth was present. Venerable Farohunbi said the Youth form the larger percentage in the church today and they must be given a conspicuous place.

The trip was rounded up with a visit to the General Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Engineer. S.L. Salifu who said Christianity is about 200years old in Nigeria and that CAN has within the 5 Blocs about 201 denominations. He said CAN is making great strides in physical and spiritual growth having conducted them round the National Christian Centre, a symbol of Unity for Christians in Nigeria. The visitors appreciated the magnificent edifice, with a revolving altar, first of its kind.

Earlier the team of 7 visitors have visited Diocese of Kebbi, Sokoto, Ife, Maidiguri, Ideato, Kaduna, Jos, Kafanchan, Minna, Lokoja, and Okrika paying courtesy calls on some Emirs, Muslim leaders, and peaceful co-existence. Divided into 3 groups the team were enthusiastically received in all the Dioceses.

The Dioceses in link with the dioceses of Guildford in Nigeria are Kebbi, Ife, Maiduguri, Ideato, Kano, Awka, Owo, Ekiti, West, Oleh, Orlu, Nsukka and Okrika dioceses. The visit was facilitated by the Archbishop of Kaduna province the most Rev Edmund Akanya. According to Dr. Olusola Igbari one of the facilitators, he said it is believed that the visit will enhance bilateral relationships and cooperation with the Diocese of Guildford and promote gospel of Christ and further enhance his kingdom.

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) also thinks that his church is being denigrated in the USA and the UK. According to a report headed CHURCH OF NIGERIA ANGLICAN COMMUNION CAN NEVER BE PUSHED OR DRAGGED INTO THE DITCH PRIMATE OKOH. He said this:

…He said the outside world especially United states and United kingdom characterizes church of Nigeria Anglican Communion as fanatics, illiterates, and not in line with post modern times.


bus rams Lambeth Palace

A London bus today went out of control and caused substantial damage to the garden wall at Lambeth Palace.

SE1 has a report with dramatic pictures here: Drama at Lambeth Palace as bus knocks down part of garden wall.

Another picture of the damaged wall is available here.


Anglican resources for the Papal visit

The Anglican Centre in Rome has some online resources to help informed relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

Here’s the press release:

Preparing for the Pope’s Visit to the UK – Continuity, Change and Collaboration
Pope Benedict XVI’s State Visit to Britain in September raises questions about the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Churches today. This in turn poses other questions about how Anglicanism developed, where it fits in alongside the other Churches of Christendom, and how it is working alongside other Christians at home and overseas.

Two presentations on the website of the Anglican Centre in Rome look at these questions, as part of the Centre’s role in fostering friendly and informed relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

“Anglicanism and the Western Christian Tradition: Continuity and Change” is an updated version of an exhibition held in the Vatican Museums at the invitation of the Roman Catholic Church in 2002. It provides an overview of Christianity in England from the earliest times and explores some of the stages in the search for unity between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. The story is taken up in “Moving Together in Unity and Mission” which gives contemporary examples of where and how the two Churches are collaborating both locally and nationally.

The presentations can be seen on

The highly-acclaimed exhibition at the Vatican was instigated by the British Ambassador to the Holy See and planned in conjunction with Norwich Cathedral. It uses Norwich as a specific case study to help unfold a rich and intriguing history. “Despite more than four hundred years of separation since the Reformation”, says the text, “Anglicans remain part of the Western Christian tradition. Living apart has meant, however, that there has been change as well as continuity.”

The presentation of current developments towards closer inter-church relations is inspired by a statement from an international commission of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission”, first published in 2007. The presentation looks at what has happened to heal the memories of the past, to work together in the present, and to build a less prejudiced society in the future.

The Bishop of Wakefield, The Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Chairman of the Anglican Centre in Rome, says:

“The Pope’s visit is a significant step on the road to Christian unity. The two presentations help us understand the English context: how long that road to unity is, and how positive Anglican-Roman Catholic collaboration is on the ground today. I welcome these new resources which form part of the Anglican Centre in Rome’s role of building friendly and informed relations between Anglicans and Catholics.”

The Anglican Centre in Rome was founded in 1966 to promote Christian unity, following a visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI. Its current Director is the Very Revd Canon David Richardson, Dean Emeritus of Melbourne.


Anglican Covenant views

From ENS in the USA we have a report Presiding officers, Executive Council member urge congregations to study the Anglican Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Executive Council member Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine are calling on all Episcopal congregations to engage in discussion of the proposed Anglican Covenant at some time during the next two years.

The Episcopal Church leaders suggested in a Sept. 3 letter that congregations consider organizing a discussion group on the covenant during Advent (2010 or 2011) or Lent (2011 or 2012) or at another time before General Convention in 2012…

There is an official Study Guide, available here.

Meanwhile, from Simple Massing Priest in Canada we have a strongly worded critique, Saying No to the Anglican Covenant.

…The Anglican Covenant is the greatest attempted centralization of authority since the de facto creation of the Anglican Communion due to the final disestablishment of episcopacy in Scotland (1689) and the consecration of the first American bishop (1784). Despite the pretty words of 4.1.3 that the Covenant “does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” nor “grant to any one Church or agency of the Communion control or direction over any Church,” 4.2.7 is very clear that the newly minted Standing Committee (whose creation has been a sideshow of smoke, mirrors and skullduggery) will have authority effectively to direct “relational consequences” to be imposed on recalcitrant Provinces…


opinion surveys on the Pope's UK visit

Two separate surveys have been published recently.

Theos has published one conducted by ComRes, see Who’s a fan of papal teaching? and Theos Papal Visit Poll September 2010. Detailed results are available at Theos Papal Visit Tables 4 September 2010.pdf.

The Tablet has published another, conducted by Ipsos MORI see The Pope, the Church and the visit – what Britons really think. Detailed results are available here. Some of the findings:

Perhaps the most surprising finding is the number of people who recognise Pope Benedict from a photograph bearing no clues to his identity. He was correctly named by a sizeable majority of all those polled (65 per cent) who recognised him more readily than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, identified by only half of the respondents. Curiously, Dr Williams is more readily recognised by Catholics (54 per cent) than by the general public (50 per cent), although surprisingly nearly a quarter of the Catholics polled failed to recognise the Pope…

Awareness of the Pope’s role as head of the Catholic Church is well understood by the vast majority of the general public (93 per cent) – in fact, more people are aware of this than that the Queen is the head of the Church of England…

Overall the public’s view of religion generally is fairly benign. More than half (52 per cent) say that on balance it is a force for good. The figure rises to 60 per cent among those aged over 65. However, when asked the question with specific reference to the Catholic Church, respondents are not so sure, with only 41 per cent of all those questioned either strongly agreeing or tending to agree that the Church is a force for good. Even fewer Anglicans – 39 per cent – believe this. Among all Christians the figure is 47 per cent. However, a big majority of Catholics (78 per cent) hold that the Catholic Church is a force for good…

There is keen awareness of one of the main matters that divides the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Fewer than two-thirds (63 per cent) of those polled understand that women cannot be ordained priests in the Catholic Church while among Catholics the figure is considerably higher (74 per cent). Perhaps this demonstrates interest and possibly concern about the issue.


earthquake in New Zealand

There are many reports of the damage caused by the earthquake in New Zealand. Here are links to some of them.

Diocese of Christchurch Earthquake Update

And there is a collection of pictures of Earthquake Hit Churches.

ChristChurch Cathedral has earthquake news on its front page.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has Quake damages many churches but spirits are holding up. has a large collection of Latest photos: 7.1 quake.

Bosco Peters has a report Christchurch earthquake.

Timaru Herald Damage closes churches

The Australian Christchurch in lockdown amid aftershocks



Alan Wilson continues his series in The Guardian with The Book of Common Prayer, part 2: Wetting baby’s head. “Why do we baptise babies, who can’t possibly believe in God? Because Augustine was right about grace and original sin.”

Clifford Longley gave this Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 on the difference between the secular, the spiritual and the religious.

The Economist looks at Catholics in Britain in The fruits of adversity. “Bolstered by immigration and challenged by the economic downturn, the church is playing an ever more active role.”

Justin Lewis-Anthony (the 3 Minute Theologian) reflects on Greenbelt: 3 Minutes on Greenbelt.
So too does Giles Fraser in the Church Times: A spiritual detox for a City-dweller.

Savi Hensman writes at Ekklesia on Anglicans at cross-purposes.

Eric Priest writes in The Guardian that Stephen Hawking can’t use physics to answer why we’re here. “Modern belief in God is not about covering the gaps in our knowledge, but about answering different types of questions.”
And the Church Mouse explains why Hawking is not saying anything now that he didn’t say 20 years ago: Stephen Hawking and God – lazy reporters make up stuff.
James Dacey at the Institute of Physics blog has this: Talking Hawking and God.
Paul Davies writes for The Guardian about Stephen Hawking’s big bang gaps. “The laws that explain the universe’s birth are less comprehensive than Stephen Hawking suggests.”


Church press reports on African bishops conference

Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times African bishops split over ‘ambushed’ agenda, but together on development and scroll down the same page for African Churches wrestle with their missionary inheritance by Michael Doe.

The Living Church has two articles:

African Primates Support Partners, ACNA

catholic voices: Anglicanism Remakes Itself by John Martin

The Church of England Newspaper has Tables turned in Entebbe by Martyn Minns.


Women bishops: valid sacraments and catholicity

Two more articles on this subject from Modern church by Jonathan Clatworthy.

Women bishops and valid sacraments

This article focuses on a central concern of opponents, the conditions for the validity of the sacraments, expressed for example in Simon Killwick’s article in the Church Times in July 2010. My aim is to undermine this concern by describing the historical origins and theological weaknesses of the idea.

Women bishops and catholicity

This article aims to clarify the claims being made. What is the universal Church? In what sense does the Church of England belong to it? How, if at all, does the universal Church make or allow changes? What stops women priests and bishops being one of the changes?