Thinking Anglicans

Tony Baldry criticises Rowan Williams

Updated Friday morning

The Telegraph has a report about what the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, has written in this week’s Church Times about the row following the article published last week in the New Statesman by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tim Ross wrote this: Baldry: Archbishop must stop ‘shouting’ at ministers

The Archbishop of Canterbury should stop “shouting” at the government like a noisy protester in Parliament Square if he wants Church of England bishops to keep their seats in the House of Lords, a senior Conservative MP has suggested.

Here’s an excerpt:

Writing in the Church Times newspaper, he said that “dismayed” Tory MPs and ministers “simply feel monumentally misunderstood by the Archbishop”, who they believe has failed to grasp the scale of the financial difficulties that the coalition inherited from Labour.

Mr Baldry said that when he was appointed to be commissioner last year, he hoped it would be possible to avoid the “disintegration” of the relationship between the Church and Parliament.

“I am disappointed that, less than a year into this Parliament – a Parliament almost certainly of a five-year term – the perception of many MPs sitting on the Coalition benches is that the Church of England is shouting at us from the other side of the street,” he said.

“Later in this Parliament, the Church of England is going to want the understanding of MPs, not least when they debate the place of the Church of England in a reformed, mainly elected Second Chamber.”

He suggested that a further source of friction could develop over plans to consecrate women bishops, which have already caused an internal rift and led hundreds of Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism in protest.

Some MPs want the government to strip the Church of its exemption from equality rules and force traditionalists to accept women bishops.

The original is now available to all subscriber-only for one week, but here is one sentence from it that may explain why it is not the substance of the NS article but the reporting of it that is the cause of this response:

They [government ministers] simply feel monumentally misunderstood by the Archbishop. Lambeth Palace took care to circu­late the full texts of the Archbishop’s New Statesman editorial to every MP; but, so far as my colleagues are concerned, it is no good responding to criticism by saying that that is not what the Archbishop said. In public life and politics, it is what is heard that matters.

Further update The full text of Baldry’s article is available via this page.


Moving Forward in Covenant

The latest report from the Joint Implementation Commission under the Covenant between the Methodist Church of Great Britain and The Church of England has been released.

The two churches have issued a joint press release (here and here), which is copied below the fold.

The report is due to be debated at the Methodist Conference and the Church of England General Synod next month.

The Methodist Church has made the full report available for download: Moving Forward in Covenant.



Women Bishops

Gloucester Diocesan Synod met yesterday evening and debated the legislation to allow women to be bishops. The synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the main motion (to approve the legislation).

Main Motion

A following motion seeking greater provision for the opponents of women bishops was heavily defeated (8 for, at least 93 against).

St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan synod also debated the legislation earlier this month, with similar results.

Main Motion
Following Motion

Archbishop Jensen on same-sex marriage

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, says Jensen

ALLOWING same-sex couples to marry could lead to the acceptance of polygamy and incest, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has warned.

Writing in the church’s newspaper, Southern Cross, Dr Jensen said the push for same-sex unions to be enshrined in the Marriage Act was not a drive for the extension of rights but the redefinition of ”one of the indispensable foundations of community”…

The full text of Archbishop Jensen’s article in Southern Cross titled Real Marriage can be found here (pdf).

Reaction in Australia was quite strong, see these letters, and also this report: Jensen gay marriage comments alarmist: AME.

Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich hit back at the comments, saying any amendments to the Marriage Act would only mean that celebrants outside the Anglican community could perform same-sex marriages.

“The Archbishop should acknowledge we live in a secular, multi-faith society, and as such he must understand that his views should not be imposed on those religions that want to perform same-sex marriages, such as the Quakers and progressive Synagogues,” Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Saturday.

“Not one of the alarmist predictions made by the Archbishop have come to pass in any of the countries that allow same-sex marriages to take place, including Catholic Spain, Portugal and Argentina.”


Affirming Catholicism: Thy Kingdom Come

Affirming Catholicism is holding a day conference on Thursday 30 June at St Matthew’s Westminster.

The full title is: Thy Kingdom Come! Prayer and Mission in the building of The Kingdom.

Details can be found here.

Speakers include:

  • Musonda Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana
    Dancing in a rainbow of prayer: the magical journey to wholeness
  • Janet Morley
    ‘It is dangerous to read newspapers’ (Margaret Atwood): risk, hope and the practice of praying the kingdom
  • Patrick Comerford
    Prayer, mission and building the kingdom: the work of USPG
  • William Mchombo, Bishop of Eastern Zambia
    Proclaiming the Kingdom in the current situation of the Anglican Communion
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Updated Wednesday and Thursday

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released the following statement regarding recent violence in South Kordofan, Sudan:

Along with the Christian leaders represented in the Sudan Ecumenical Forum and Council of Churches and many more throughout the world, we deplore the mounting level of aggression and bloodshed in South Kordofan State and the indiscriminate violence on the part of government troops against civilians. Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down. UN personnel in the capital, Kadugli, are confined to their compound and are unable to protect civilians; the city has been overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported.

This violence is a major threat to the stability of Sudan just as the new state of South Sudan is coming into being. The humanitarian challenge is already great, and the risk of another Darfur situation, with civilian populations at the mercy of government-supported terror, is a real one.

International awareness of this situation is essential. The UN Security Council, the EU, the Arab League and the African Union need to co-operate in guaranteeing humanitarian access and safety for citizens, and we hope that our own government, which has declared its commitment to a peaceful future for Sudan, will play an important part in this.

The Diocese of Bradford is linked to the Diocese of Kadugli in Northern Sudan. There is an appeal from the Bishop of Bradford on the diocesan website. This has links to information about what is going on in Sudan.

Wednesday update

The Diocese of Salisbury also has a link with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. It has published a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement. There is more information on the diocese’s link at Sudan Link.

From the Anglican Communion News Service: Anglican agencies to work together on humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

ENI News has Christian leaders condemn terror in Sudan’s Kordofan.

Thursday update

William Haigh, the British Foreign Secretary issued this statement on Sudan to the House of Commons yesterday. The Minister of State answered an oral question in the House of Lords.


more reactions to the archbishop's New Statesman article

Victoria Coren has written this: Bashing the Bishop.

… Dr. William’s oeuvre has caught the imagination, snatched headlines and triggered a national debate. Maybe we should swap jobs? Except I’d make a terrible archbishop.

It’s exactly what he should be doing, of course: getting stuck in to matters of public ethics, questioning the national conscience, being a strong and relevant voice on issues of social concern. I can understand why some in the press feel obliged to disagree with him – and this is a good thing; we all want to live in a country of robust debate – but the way that some have slammed him for speaking out at all is just embarrassing. It’s like they don’t understand who he is, what he does or what the role’s about…

(The NoTW article she mentions is here.)

Paul Vallely wrote at the Independent on Aid and what the Archbishop should have said.

Those naughty people at the New Statesman. Apparently when the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived to do his week as guest editor he was planning to write the main editorial on aid to Africa. But Rowan Williams was persuaded to offer, instead, his thoughts on the state of the coalition government one year in. The paper got the headlines it wanted but we have been deprived of his thoughts on the place we used to call the dark continent. So what might he have said? And why does it matter?

At least one other bishop has spoken up in support of the archbishop:

John Pritchard of Oxford is reported in the Witney Gazette Bishop John joins attack on ‘disastrous’ Government cuts.


White Collar Crime?

Updated Monday evening

The Church of St-Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand published this petition on its website: Petition to the Anglican Bishops of New Zealand. The heading reads:

Stop White Collar Crime – Ask NZ bishops to end their discrimination against gays and lesbians

Following an explanation of the specific NZ circumstances, it says:

We respectfully ask the bishops of the Anglican Church in New Zealand to be true to the values of the Gospel and end the discriminatory practices that prevent the selection and ordination of gays and lesbians who are in committed relationships.

Bishop Philip Richardson, Bishop in Taranaki then wrote this response: White collar crime?

And the anglicantaonga website also published a news article about the exchange, Bishop refutes “white collar crime”.

A new petition urging bishops to end their “discrimination” against gays and lesbians misunderstands both church law and the power of bishops to change church doctrine.

That’s the view of Bishop Philip Richardson, who has released a public response to the “Stop White Collar Crime ” petition being driven by Auckland’s St-Matthew-in-the-City…

Both Kiwianglo’s Blog and Anglican Down Under have drawn attention to this. Both seem to think this dialogue is a good development. Scroll down here to see Ron Smith’s comments. Peter Carrell has identified the following key passage from Bishop Richardson’s response:

I believe that General Synod needs to reach an agreed position on these three inter-related issues, in the following order:

First , whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity. This in itself requires the process of collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate which we are engaged in.

Depending on our collective answer to the first question, the church might then be in a position to move to the development of a formulary for the blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, relationships other than marriage.

It is worth making the point that as bishops of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki we have suspended the licenses of heterosexual ministers living in relationships other than marriage (for example, in civil unions) for exactly the reason that there is no agreed position in this church on the status of committed relationships other than marriage.

Thirdly, the church could agree that such relationships so blessed and formally recognised by the church meet the standards of holiness of life that is the call on every Christian life, and is required to be reflected in the lives of those called by God and affirmed by the church to holy orders.

Bosco Peters has written a response to this: Gay Ordinations Invalid?


second Maori vote against the Anglican Covenant

For our earlier report on the New Zealand situation, see New Zealand Maori diocese rejects Covenant.

Now, Bosco Peters reports that a second Maori diocese has also voted against it. See Maori momentum growing against Anglican Covenant. Below is the text of the motion, see Bosco’s post for further analysis.


Saturday 11 June 2011

Motion concerning the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant


That for the purposes of providing feedback to Te Hinota Whanui (General Synod) and Te Runanganui o Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti wishes to express the following:

  • We have carefully considered the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant, and what we know of the context in which it was proposed;
  • In terms of our shared Mihingare and Anglican heritage, our call to communion, and our call to ministry and mission, the Covenant offers us nothing new or more compelling than the Spiritual Covenant that we already have with each other through faith in Jesus Christ;
  • We see that Section Four of The Anglican Communion Covenant propose measures of compliance and discipline – including “relational consequences” and being declared “incompatible with the Covenant” – that go against our Gospel imperative to “love one another” (John 13:34-35).

We note that our sister Amorangi, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, has stated its opposition to The Anglican Communion Covenant because:

  • It is a threat to the rangatiratanga of the Tangata Whenua;
  • It does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these Islands; and
  • We should instead focus on the restoration of justice for Tangata Whenua under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We agree with Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, and choose here to stand in solidarity with them.

For the reasons expressed above, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti states that it is opposed to the adoption of The Anglican Communion Covenant.

MOVED: Rev Don Tamihere SECONDED: Rev Connie Tuheke-Ferris


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Scottish Episcopal Church: General Synod Day 3

Today was the last day of the meeting of the Scottish General Synod.

Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod – Saturday 11 June.

The Edinburgh Evening News has this very brief report of yesterday’s business: Synod talks on gay issue.


opinion at Pentecost

Heather McDougall writes for Cif belief about St Francis of Assisi: a saint for our times.
The message of St Francis was uncompromising and simple: greed causes suffering for both the victims and the perpetrators.

Also at Cif belief Andrew Brown writes Social cohesion needs religious boundaries.
The new Prevent strategy shows an old pattern of social organisation is emerging in a new form, around new doctrines.

John Blake writes for CNN that Actually, that’s not in the Bible.

Bishop Pierre Whalon in The Huffington Post asks Many Mansions in Whose House?
And in his latest essay for Anglicans Online The Ministers of the Church Are … Bishop Whalon argues that an upside-down pyramid is just the kind of church organisation Jesus would want.

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A bill to curb Sharia law in the UK

A Private Member’s Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords by Baroness Cox entitled Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.

To make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the
application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision about
the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.

The full text of the bill is available as a PDF file, and there are also explanatory notes.

Some news reports:

Guardian Bill limiting sharia law is motivated by ‘concern for Muslim women’

Telegraph Plans to curb influence of sharia courts to be unveiled

This bill has won support from an improbable alliance of lobbying groups:

Andrew Brown explains, in The state cannot curb sharia law alone.

A bill to limit the scope of courts is laudable, but sharia law’s discriminatory aspects must be undermined by Muslims.

He writes:

…What is politically interesting about this is that it represents an alliance of Christians and atheists along with what one might call normal secularists who just dislike institutionalised sexism and exploitation. The campaign against sharia law has long been confined to a leftwing atheist ghetto. Cox has broken it out of that. It’s to the credit of both parties that Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society appeared next to an American Christian missionary at the launch of the bill yesterday.

There’s no doubt that the bill will be used by some people to stir up distrust and hatred of Muslims. But I don’t think that is in itself a good enough reason to oppose it. What it does is to make explicit the fact that Islam is practised like any other religion in Britain, under the rules that parliament makes…


Canadian Church publishes Anglican Covenant guide

From the Anglican Journal New resources help unpack the Anglican Covenant

Canadian Anglican parishes and individuals who would like to learn more about the proposed Anglican Covenant will soon have a study guide at their fingertips.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Anglican Covenant Working Group has released the study guide on the national church’s website in time for Pentecost, June 12.

“We’re encouraging people to look at the [details of the Covenant] and to reflect on what its implications are,” diocese of Ontario Bishop George Bruce, chair of the working group, said in an interview.

And on the official church website, Anglican Covenant study now available.

The Anglican Church of Canada has released a study guide to help parishes and dioceses consider the Anglican Covenant, a document that, if adopted, would define the relations among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. The material was prepared by the Anglican Communion Working Group, chaired by Bishop George Bruce…

Exploring the Anglican Covenant is available as a PDF file from here.


Scottish Episcopal Church: General Synod Day 2

Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod – Friday 10 June 2011.

Below the fold is the Primus’s introduction to the today’s discussion (in Indaba groups) of the Anglican Covenant.

Kelvin Holdsworth has continued to blog from the floor of Synod.



reactions to the archbishop's New Statesman article

Updated again Friday evening

This is a selection from the huge volume of articles written today (Thursday) in response to the New Statesman article by Rowan Williams.

Church Mouse What Rowan really said in the New Statesman

Nick Baines Feeding frenzy

Andrew Brown Cif belief Rowan Williams is not interested in party politics

Gary Gibbon Channel 4 News Will Archbishop’s criticism spark repeat of 1980s?

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Anyone who wants Britain’s Christian heritage preserved must be glad that Rowan Williams spoke out

Cranmer Three cheers for the Archbishop of Canterbury

Friday morning update

Church Times Primate criticises ‘policies for which no one voted’

Giles Fraser Guardian Archbishop of the opposition

Guardian editorial: Welfare reform: Canterbury tales

Financial Times editorial: Pundit in purple

Telegraph editorial The Archbishop should not have played politics

Independent Leading article: Voice in the wilderness

Gregory Cameron interviewed by BBC Wales video Archbishop of Canterbury ‘right to ask questions’

Friday evening update

Daily Mail editorial Politics, morality and a discredited archbishop

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Why the Catholic Church stands to gain from Rowan Williams’ outburst

Church Mouse Top five silly things said in the news yesterday

Nick Spencer Cif belief An archbishop who can spark national debate

Stephanie Flanders BBC God, poverty and the government (includes video interview with Ian Duncan Smith)

Simon Barrow Ekklesia Daily Mail tries to launch a ‘holy war’


Scottish Episcopal Church: General Synod Day 1

Update Monday evening
The brief note below about the Anglican Covenant may be misleading. To clarify, a decision in principle on whether or not to adopt the covenant will be made at the General Synod in 2012. Formal adoption requires canonical legislation, and it is this that will require a further two years. Full details are in the Paper from Faith and Order Board.

Update late Thursday:
Kelvin Holdworth reports that the Primus actually said more about the Anglican Covenant in his charge than was included in the official text, and gives a transcript, in What the Primus actually said.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding the 2011 meeting of its General Synod in Edinburgh from today until Saturday. There was a official preview published last month, General Synod 2011, and all the papers can be downloaded.

There are these official reports of the first day’s business.
Primus’ charge at the opening Eucharist
Brief summary of business General Synod – Thursday 9 June

There is also an official Twitter stream.

Kelvin Holdsworth is blogging from the floor of Synod.

The business included a paper on the process of considering the Anglican Covenant: Paper from Faith and Order Board. The process described in this paper was accepted by the Synod; this will involve making a final decision on whether to adopt the covenant at the 2014 meeting of the Synod, although a decision not to adopt it could be made earlier.

There is background information on the Scottish General Synod here.


Turbulent Priests?

By an extraordinary coincidence, Theos has chosen today to publish its report, Turbulent Priests? (link to PDF copy)

‘Turbulent Priests?’, by Daniel Gover, examines the political interventions of Rowan Williams, George Carey and Robert Runcie since 1979.

Covering issues as wide ranging as asylum, criminal justice, military conflict and church schools, the report seeks to answer the question: does the Archbishop of Canterbury contribute a moral voice in support of the common good that is much needed in contemporary British politics?


Rowan Williams criticises the British government

Updated again Thursday noon

Update the New Statesman has now published the full text of the leading article: The government needs to know how afraid people are by Rowan Williams.

I can imagine a New Statesman reader looking at the contents of this issue and mentally supplying: “That’s enough coalition ministers (Ed).” After all, the NS has never exactly been a platform for the establishment to explain itself. But it seems worth encouraging the present government to clarify what it is aiming for in two or three key areas, in the hope of sparking a livelier debate about where we are going – and perhaps even to discover what the left’s big idea currently is…

other updates at the bottom

Tim Ross has a front page story in Thursday’s Telegraph, headlined Rowan Williams condemns ‘frightening’ Coalition.

Dr Rowan Williams will launch a sustained attack on the Coalition in the most outspoken political intervention by an Archbishop of Canterbury for a generation.

He warns that the public is gripped by “fear” over the Government’s reforms to education, the NHS and the benefits system and accuses David Cameron and Nick Clegg of forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.

Openly questioning the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition, the Archbishop dismisses the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” as a “painfully stale” slogan, and claims that it is “not enough” for ministers to blame Britain’s economic and social problems on the last Labour government.

The comments come in an article he has written as guest editor of this week’s New Statesman magazine.

His two-page critique, titled “The government needs to know how afraid people are”, is the most forthright political criticism by such a senior cleric since Robert Runcie enraged Margaret Thatcher with a series of attacks in the 1980s.

Lambeth Palace is braced for an angry response but Dr Williams, who became Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, is understood to believe that the moment is right for him to enter the political debate…

Damian Thompson adds that Rowan Williams returns to Old Labour sloganising as he desperately tries to distract himself from Anglican meltdown.

The New Statesman itself reports the story this way: Archbishop of Canterbury: “no one voted” for the coalition’s policies.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a remarkable attack on the coalition government, warning that it is committing the country to “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.” In a leading article in tomorrow’s New Statesman, which he has guest-edited, Rowan Williams writes that the “anxiety and anger” felt by voters is a result of the coalition’s failure to expose its policies to “proper public argument”.

With specific reference to David Cameron’s health and education reforms, the Archbishop says that the government’s approach has created a mixture of “bafflement and indignation” among the public…


The Telegraph also has these:
Rowan Williams: timeline of Archbishop’s political views
Friction between Church and State: a history of outspoken Archbishops of Canterbury

Guardian Downing Street hits back at archbishop’s broadside

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury defended by Lord Tebbit

New Statesman Philip Pullman on what he owes to the Church of England


Discrimination on grounds of religion?

According to a recent report in the Telegraph,

European judges have ordered ministers to make a formal statement on whether it believes Christians’ rights have been infringed by previous decisions in the British courts, which have repeatedly dismissed their right to dress and act according to their beliefs.

The move by the European Court in Strasbourg is because Christians who believe they have suffered discrimination for their beliefs are taking a landmark legal fight the court…

Their cases have been selected by the European Court as of being of such legal significance that they be examined further.

Once ministers have responded the court will decide whether to have full hearings on them.

You can read the two documents filed with the European Court of Human Rights first here and then here.

This analysis of the subject area by Philip Henson is very helpful: Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. Scroll down to Persecuted Christians? for his discussion of these four cases:

How many of you have forgotten about the “big four” – the cases of Lillian Ladele, Gary McFarlane, Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida? What do these people all have in common? The answer is that they have all recently issued applications at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The European angle has been massively overlooked almost all legal commentators, but it is the ECHR which will be the final battleground in the struggle for a superior right.

The British Humanist Association had this comment: European Court of Human Rights considers hearing cases which demand more privilege for Christianity.

The Christian Legal Centre had: European Court to rule on Christian discrimination cases.


opinion for Ascensiontide

Evan Harris writes for Cif belief that Religious groups have too much freedom to discriminate.
Now that faith groups are to become public service providers, the exemptions they have in British equality law must be narrowed.

The Huffington Post prints this extract from a new book by Desmond Tutu: God Is Not a Christian.

Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia that The Kirk faces a challenging future.

The Vernacular Curate writes about Technology and God.

Theo Hobson writes for Cif belief about What Rowan Williams really dislikes about Freemasonry.
His distaste seems to have less to do with its aura of mystery, more with its roots in liberalism and the Enlightenment.

The Telegraph reports the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thoughts on the Bard’s religion: William Shakespeare was probably a Catholic.

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at the Ascension Day Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields: Sermon for Ascension Day 2011.

And Maggi Dawn writes this: Ascension Day 2011.