Thinking Anglicans

St Pauls' Cathedral: Wednesday morning reports

Updated 1 pm Wednesday

According to Episcopal Cafe Ruth Gledhill and Fay Schlesinger in The Times are reporting [subscription only] that Canon Dr. Giles Fraser will resign if the Cathedral moves to evict Occupy London protesters:

…Dr Giles Fraser, who is responsible for the cathedral’s relations with the financial institutions of the City of London, is understood to be prepared to quit should it take legal action against the 200 tents forming an increasingly permanent-looking settlement on its land.

…. A resignation from Dr Fraser would make him a martyr for the anti-capitalist cause and prove hugely embarrassing to the cathedral and the Church. If the cathedral does not try to oust the protesters, however, it will be forced into the humiliating position of reopening with the tents still in place, or remaining closed for months — putting events such as the Remembrance Day services at risk and losing the cathedral about £16,000 a day in tourist revenue.

Update The BBC reports that Giles Fraser’s resignation threat relates to “use of force” rather than the taking of legal action to remove the protestors.

Telegraph St Paul’s Cathedral protest: Blitz landmark closed because you might trip over guy rope by Victoria Ward, Richard Alleyne and Tim Ross

At the height of the Blitz, the relentless pounding of London by Luftwaffe bombers forced St Paul’s Cathedral to close its doors for a total of four days.

But today (Weds) health and safety fears about people tripping over tent guy ropes and blocked emergency exits have achieved what Hitler did not, and shut it for a fifth day.

The cathedral has been criticised after it released a full list of the health and safety concerns that has been used as justification for closing it for the longest time in living memory.

Mark Field, Tory MP for Cities of London and Westminster – in which the cathedral sits – said they were “spurious health and safety excuses” and called for them to be ignored.

“There never seemed to be any substance to the health and safety reasons for the closure. It was a nuclear option and it has been a monumental own goal,” he said…


Guardian editorial condemns St Paul's Cathedral

The Guardian newspaper has tonight published an editorial which severely criticises the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s (and by implication the Bishop of London – see previous article).

City and cathedral: The whited sepulchre

The dean and chapter of St Paul’s risk playing the villains in a national pantomime

The last time St Paul’s Cathedral was so much in the news was the wedding of Charles and Diana: a vast if moth-eaten musical parade which ended very badly when the fairytale wedding turned into a marriage of unfaithful human beings. That helped turn the cathedral into a major tourist attraction, though it did nothing for the Christian message. Now another piece of theatre has swept it up, and with it won a turn on the national stage.

Protesters hoping to “Occupy the London Stock Exchange” were prevented from entering Paternoster Square, a shopping development which had been their original target, and instead have camped, in orderly rows, around the north side of the cathedral and across its main west entrance. This rather messy and absurd situation has handed the dean and chapter of St Paul’s a truly historic opportunity to discredit Christianity in this country. They seem determined to take it. They should think, and stop.

The dean and chapter appear to have decided that health and safety considerations mean they must be rid of the makeshift camp. These grounds are frankly risible. Pretending otherwise compounds the first mistake, which was to shut the cathedral altogether, rather than expose visitors to the sight and smells of a couple of hundred protesters. A cathedral isn’t really there for the tourists, even if it can charge visitors £14.50, as St Paul’s does. It is a place for prayer and worship. The congregations who come for these, the real purposes of the building, should remember that Jesus talked to publicans and tax collectors. He might even have talked to merchant bankers. He would certainly have talked to the protesters camped outside.

Aspects of the protest camp are silly and rather squalid. But it still represents a profound and important moral revulsion which the Church of England needs to take seriously. These aren’t the usual Spartist suspects. The sense that there is something outrageous, unjust and absurd about the world of modern finance has spread across the whole political and religious spectrum. Even Pope Benedict XVI has reinforced his predecessor’s teaching with a demand that the markets of the world be brought under human control. The Church of England needs to be part of this discussion, for its own sake and for the sake of the country. And that is done far more effectively by theatre and by conversation than by lecturing or even preaching. It is no use having clever bishops saying clever things that no one listens to. Here at St Paul’s right now, there is a chance to catch the attention of millions of people who would never listen to a bishop or recognise a Dean without a Torvill.

The protesters aren’t right about everything. A lot of the time they aren’t even coherent enough to be wrong. But the role of the church is to talk with them and to find out how their sense of injustice at the present slump can be refined and educated and brought out into the wider conversation. The cathedral has a chance to take Marx’s taunt about religion being “the heart of a heartless world” and try to make it true, and valuable. It must not fumble this.

If the dean and chapter continue their steps towards evicting they will be playing the villains in a national pantomime. There will be legal battles and, eventually, physical force. At every step, the cathedral authorities will be acting in the service of absurdity and injustice. Yet this is where the logic of their position is leading them. They must see this, and stop. Jesus denounced his Pharisaic enemies as whited sepulchres, or shining tombs; and that is what the steam-cleaned marble frontage of St Paul’s will become if the protesters are evicted to make room for empty pomp: a whited sepulchre, where morality and truth count for nothing against the convenience of the heritage industry.


Bishop of London issues statement about St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral: a statement from the Bishop of London


A statement by the Bishop of London on the protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

“This demonstration has undoubtedly raised a number of very important questions. The St Paul’s Institute has itself focused on the issue of executive pay and I am involved in ongoing discussions with City leaders about improving shareholder influence on excessive remuneration.

“Nevertheless, the time has come for the protestors to leave, before the camp’s presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address. The Dean and the Chapter, who are responsible for St Paul’s, have already made it clear that the protest should come to an end and I fully support that view.”


More on the St Paul's Cathedral mess

Guardian letters to the editor in Tuesday’s paper: St Paul’s: pulpit, pavement and piety and in Monday’s paper: Conflict and crisis at the cathedral

Telegraph editorial in Tuesday’s paper: A sullied cathedral and news article Richard Alleyne Just 10% of St Paul’s protesters stay overnight

BBC St Paul’s camp: Occupy London is ‘tourist attraction’

ITN St Pauls still closed (video report)

Mail Online St Paul’s may have to cancel Remembrance Sunday service because of ‘Occupy London’ protests

Independent St Paul’s protesters call in their own safety expert and vow to stay put and earlier Peter Popham: A cathedral turns its back on the people


Update on St Paul's Cathedral and the protesters

Sunday afternoon/Monday morning news reports:

Peter Walker Occupy protesters seek explanation over cathedral’s call to move on

Peter Walker and Riazat Butt St Paul’s may seek injunction to move Occupy London activists

…With the deadlock seemingly set to continue, St Paul’s and other nearby institutions have consulted lawyers about possible efforts to forcibly evict the protesters. Cathedral staff were due to hold an emergency meeting with fire officers, police and officials from the Corporation of London, which administers the City district, on Monday. A St Paul’s spokesman, the Reverand Rob Marshall, said the impact of the closure would be felt more intensively next week as tourist numbers swell during half-term.

“The penny is dropping,” he said. “Half-term has started and we’ve got hundreds and thousands of visitors from around the world in London. It will soon begin to dawn that the cathedral will not be open for the foreseeable future. It’s such a chunk of a visitor’s itinerary and there will be a momentum that this is a reality. If there is no sign of movement in the early part of the week there will be further negotiations.”

The Corporation of London has not commented publicly since Friday, when it also called on the camp to disband. But the organisation is known to have consulted lawyers about how an eviction might take place, and whether the legal options could even include an emergency injunction to clear the space immediately.

But this is seen as a last resort. Aside from the potential public relations disaster of police officers dragging peaceful protesters from their tents in the shadow of a cathedral, eviction proceedings would most likely take some weeks.

Part of the land housing the camp is owned by St Paul’s, who would need to take action for trespass, while other parts belong to the Corporation, requiring a case under laws relating to obstruction of the highways. The Occupy movement has said it, too, has been taking legal advice, and cannot be expected to leave voluntarily without more information from St Paul’s…


Women Bishops – diocesan debate – 22 October

Updated to include following motion
Updated 1 November to correct voting figures for the following motion

Ely diocesan synod debated the women bishops legislation today.

The main motion, in favour of the legislation, was passed in all three houses. Here are the voting figures.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 0 0
Clergy 39 6 1
Laity 30 10 2

A following motion, seeking more provision for opponents was defeated with 12 votes in favour, 74 72 against and 6 abstentions. The abstentions included both bishops.



In an article for the Church Times, now available to non-subscribers, George Pitcher offers Ten media tips for the Church.

Derek Olsen writes for the Episcopal Café about Communicating your parish ethos.

Christian Piatt asks in The Huffington Post Did Jesus Really Die for Our Sins?

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St Paul's Cathedral and the protestors

Updated again Friday evening

Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times this morning: Crisis brings crowd to steps of St Paul’s
Update There has been a major update of this story, now headlined Protest means we must shut, says Dean of St Paul’s.

THE Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral appealed this week for cathedral life to “be allowed to operate as normally as possible”, after hundreds of activists, protesting against corporate greed and eco­nomic inequality, set up camp in St Paul’s Churchyard…

The Church Times also has editorial comment on the subject: Leader: Cold comfort for protesters.

The statements by the Dean and Chapter can be found here, and earlier here.

Friday afternoon update

Two further statements from the Dean of St Paul’s:

Statement from the Dean of St Paul’s (21 October)

Update Video of this statement here.

…Last night, I met with members of the Chapter to discuss some of these key issues. As the week has gone on, and in a statement we issued earlier this week, we intimated how difficult the situation was becoming.

As a result of that meeting, and reports received today from our independent Health, Safety and Fire officers, I have written an open letter to the protestors this afternoon advising them that we have no lawful alternative but to close St Paul’s Cathedral until further notice. I have here copies of the letter clearly outlining the reasons we have had to take this dramatic course of action which I will ask my colleagues to distribute.

The Health, Safety and Fire officers have pointed out that access to and from the Cathedral is seriously limited. With so many stoves and fires and lots of different types of fuel around, there is a clear fire hazard. Then there is the public health aspect which speaks for itself. The dangers relate not just to Cathedral staff and visitors but are a potential hazard to those encamped themselves.

The decision to close St Paul’s Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times and I have asked the Registrar to implement emergency procedures whereby the building remains closed but fit for purpose until such a time that we can open safely. Our 200 staff and 100 volunteers are also being informed of this decision this afternoon.
I want to say two simple things at this point.

1)We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances.

2)That all of the Chapter are at one on this and recognise the complexities of the issues facing us at this time…

Open Letter from the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral

…With a heavy heart I have to tell you that St Paul’s Cathedral has to be closed today until further notice, because of the legal requirements placed upon us by fire, health and safety issues. I know you will appreciate that in taking on the burden of responsibility for the care and well being of people entering our building, we must also be able to ensure everyone’s safety and, according to those who are expert in this regard, we cannot do so at the moment. I wanted to inform you of this necessary decision before I announced it to the Press.

I am therefore appealing to you directly to recognise that a great deal had been achieved by your presence here outside St Paul’s but that, in order that we might re-open the Cathedral as speedily as possible, we ask you to withdraw peacefully. We are concerned about public safety in terms of evacuation and fire hazards and the consequent knock-on effects which this has with regards to visitors…

Guardian Peter Walker and Riazat Butt

Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters asked to leave by cathedral officials

Occupy London Stock Exchange camp refuses to leave despite cathedral plea


More on the South Carolina disciplinary case

Updated Thursday evening

Last week’s report is here.

Since the last update, several more developments have occurred.

On 14 October, The Living Church reported Church Attorney Recuses Herself

On 17 October, The Living Church reported Attorney J.B. Burtch Returns to Lawrence Case.

And the ACI published South Carolina: Upholding The Church’s Discipline By Upholding The Constitution.

And Anglican Curmudgeon published The Kangaroo Court Should Resign in Toto.

The next day, Preludium asked Why is the old TItle IV better than the new?

And today, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo wrote an opinion column for The State newspaper titled Unity, diversity both necessary and possible in Episcopal Church.

Episcopalians in the Columbia-based Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina are watching with heavy hearts as our brothers and sisters in the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina contend with allegations that their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, has “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

We appreciate Bishop Dorsey Henderson’s clarification that the church’s disciplinary board, which he chairs, is merely looking to see if the charges have merit, not prosecuting Bishop Lawrence on the basis of them (“Calm urged over Lawrence inquiry,” Friday).

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty…

Thursday evening update
ACI has published South Carolina: The Church Needs Transparency

We have considered carefully the available information related to the allegations against Bishop Mark Lawrence that are currently under review by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. That information discloses an extended and troubling sequence of events that raises serious questions about transparency in the church…


PA Supreme Court rejects Archbishop Duncan's appeal

Updated Wednesday evening

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has rejected the last appeal made by the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA).

From the court document (PDF):


         And now, this 17th day of October, 2011 the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby DENIED.

From the diocesan website:

On October 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to appeal the ruling of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

18th October, A.D. 2011
Feast of St. Luke


Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America


The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this statement: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal of Property Rulings.

n an order issued October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal seeking to challenge lower court rulings holding that, under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church was the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. The issues presented to the court had been adequately reviewed and ruled on, first by the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, then on appeal by Commonwealth Court. Each ruling consistently supported the position of the Episcopal Diocese. We hope that all litigation over these issues will now cease.

The Court’s ruling also affirms that the Episcopal Diocese holds the title to the property of a number of parishes where congregations had ceased to actively participate in the Diocese. We will continue to encourage them to return to active participation in the Diocese, and in the meantime to be good stewards of the property. This Diocese remains committed to working through these issues with each of the affected congregations.

A previous diocesan statement, which includes a link to the Commonwealth Court decision, is available here.


Women Bishops – diocesan debate – 17 October

Update 16 November

Truro diocesan synod debated the women bishops legislation today.

The main motion, in favour of the legislation, was passed in all three houses. Here are the voting figures.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 0 0
Clergy 27 3 1
Laity 33 6 1

The following motion asking for more provision for those opposed was “decisively defeated”.

Update The following motion was the standard CEEC motion.

That this Synod
“Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England; and therefore
Calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.”


Archbishop's Central Africa visit concluded

Additional press releases from Lambeth Palace:

Archbishop travels to Manicaland, Zimbabwe

Visit to St Augustine’s Mission in Manicaland, Zimbabwe

And about the final leg of the visit, to Zambia:

Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Zambia

Archbishop meets President Michael Sata of Zambia

ACNS reports Good news for Zimbabwe Anglicans tempered by reports of orphan abuse.

Press reports:

ENI via Anglican Journal Zimbabwe judges rule in favour of Anglican church

Mail and Guardian Zim’s church horror: ‘Homosexuals must die’

Telegraph Aislinn Laing and Peta Thorneycroft Zimbabwe’s Anglicans in rare victory following Archbishop of Canterbury visit

And also Zambia’s president, Michael Sata, urges Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘send more missionaries’.


Women Bishops – diocesan debates – 15 October

Updated Saturday afternoon and evening
Updated Saturday night (including corrections to Blackburn and Norwich figures)
Updated Monday night to add Wakefield following motion
Updated Tuesday to add links to reports on Blackburn and Rochester diocesan websites. In addition the voting figures for clergy and laity in the first following motion at Rochester have been corrected to match the diocesan report.

Seven diocesan synods debated the women bishops legislation today. We will update this article as results become available.

A majority of diocesan synods have now voted in favour of the main motion, and the draft legislation can now return to General Synod.

The main motion, which all synods have to vote on by houses and without amendment, is:

That this Synod approves the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and ordination of women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon Number 30.

The usual following motion (the “CEEC motion”) seeks further provision for opponents.

That this Synod

1. Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England; and therefore

2. Calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable, on theological grounds, to accept the ministry of Women Bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from a Bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.

1) Blackburn passed the main motion in the houses of clergy and laity (which is what matters)..

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 3 0
Clergy 36 34 0
Laity 33 30 4

The CEEC following motion was carried: 79 votes for and 55 against.

The diocese has published this report: Diocese Backs Women Bishops Proposals.

2) Carlisle passed the main motion in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 0 0
Clergy 30 8 0
Laity 45 10 0

The CEEC following motion was defeated.

3) Norwich passed the main motion in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 3 0 0
Clergy 33 12 2
Laity 31 11 0

The CEEC following motion was defeated.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 0 1 2
Clergy 21 22 3
Laity 17 24 1

These figures are now correct; the diocesan website originally had an error which has now been corrected.

4) Rochester passed the main motion in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 0 0
Clergy 36 12 0
Laity 34 11 2

The CEEC following motion was defeated.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 0 0 2
Clergy 10 31 8
Laity 13 32 3

There was a second following motion

This Synod expresses the hope that the House of Bishops will bring forward proposals which will meet the legitimate needs of those opposed in conscience to the ordination of women to the episcopate, so that they may remain fully part of the Church of England

which was defeated.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 0 1
Clergy 18 26 5
Laity 20 17 10

The diocese has published a pdf file giving the voting figures both at the diocesan synod (as above) and at deanery synods.

5) St Albans passed the main motion in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 3 0 0
Clergy 43 10 0
Laity 52 7 1

The CEEC following motion was defeated.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 0 3 0
Clergy 6 39 3
Laity 5 52 4

6) Wakefield passed the main motion in the houses of clergy and laity (which is what matters).

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 1 0
Clergy 24 14 0
Laity 23 10 2

The synod debated this following motion:

That this synod requests the general synod to debate a motion in the following form:

That this synod [i.e. the general synod] calls upon the House of Bishops, in exercise of its powers under standing order 60(b), to amend the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and ordination of women) measure in the manner proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the revision stage for the draft measure.

This was carried in all three houses. These are the voting figures for that motion.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 0 0
Clergy 20 19 0
Laity 20 12 1

The diocese has published this report: Wakefield debates women Bishops.

7) Winchester passed the main motion in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 0 0
Clergy 23 21 2
Laity 37 23 2

The CEEC following motion also passed with 61 votes for, 36 against and 6 abstentions.

A second following motion

The Synod requests the General Synod to amend the draft legislation to provide for the review on a periodic basis, by or on behalf of the General Synod, of its operation having specific regard to its efficacy in removing, as far as possible , within the context of the existing safeguards, the legal distinctions between the Episcopal ministry of women and the Episcopal ministry of men, as soon as possible and for a mechanism to be established for the implementation of the recommendations of each and any such review.

was defeated: 29 votes for, 51 against, and 13 abstentions.

From the diocesan website: Winchester Diocese says ‘yes’ …just!



Jonathan Jones writes in The Guardian that Our churches are filled with hidden beauty.
“Despite the ravages of the Reformation, Britain’s churches are still full of glorious medieval art. What are the best examples in your area?”

David Lose asks in The Huffington Post What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that, Unlike iPads, we are not disposable.


Irish evangelicals oppose civil partnerships

The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy has released some information about the meeting earlier this week which was attended by the Bishop of Lewes.

See Fellowship declares its opposition to civil unions from the Portadown Times.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy (EFIC) said the civil partnership of Portadown-born Tom Gordon and New Zealander Mark Duley has made it “very difficult” for the CoI to stay united.

The Rev Trevor Johnston chaired a meeting in Belfast on Monday addressed by the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, who last year caused a furore in the Church of England when he made a highly controversial comment about women bishops.

Mr Johnston told the Portadown Times, “There are usually around 40 clergy at our EFIC meetings, but Monday’s was attended by 80 from all over Ireland, with 80 per cent of them rectors and all strongly opposed to same sex partnerships. The main purpose of the meeting was Bible study, but this issue was discussed widely and clergy from all over Ireland are opposed.

“The Bible is unequivocal throughout, and the meeting took place in a very serious mood. There was a groundswell of distress by people who do not want to see their church divided over this issue, but it will be very difficult to hold the Church of Ireland together.”

He added that the bishops’ conference in the spring and then the General Synod could be a watershed for the church, “and this crisis will be very hard to resolve”.

There are letters on this subject in this week’s Church of Ireland Gazette (scroll down).


further developments in the South Carolina case

Updated Friday evening

Following on from here, the stream of material continues. Making sense of it all is not easy.

The Diocese of South Carolina has issued this: Diocese Releases Correspondence Relating to Josephine Hicks, Church Attorney

The Living Church has published Bishop: Attorney Never on Disciplinary Board.

TitusOneNine has published a helpful index of documents published so far.

Episcopal Café has published an analysis of events, titled The game is afoot in South Carolina.

Preludium has published On this business of accession to the General Convention and What to do if you (Diocese of South Carolina) don’t like Title IV (or TEC’s “direction.”)

Anglican Curmudgeon has published Why Would Any Disciplinary Board Choose Ms. Hicks?

Friday evening update
Living Church Church Attorney Recuses Herself

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Women Bishops – London diocesan debate

Updated to include partial information on the following motions

The London diocesan synod held its debate on the women bishops legislation this evening, and voted against the legislation.

The motion, which all synods have to vote on by houses and without amendment was:

That this Synod approves the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and ordination of women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon Number 30.

The voting figures were:

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 1 0
Clergy 39 41 0
Laity 45 37 0

For this purpose the motion is only carried if both the houses of clergy and laity vote in favour.

The diocese has published this Report from Diocesan Synod.

Two following motions were also considered, and both were rejected. When we receive the exact wording of them we will add that information.

1. Understood to be the CEEC motion voted on in other dioceses

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 1 0
Clergy 37 38 0
Laity 36 39 2

2. Understood to be a request to reconsider the “Archbishops’ amendment”

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 1 0
Clergy 34 38 1
Laity 33 41 2

more on same sex marriage in Scotland

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has now written on this subject.

See his article in the Scotsman The Most Rev David Chillingworth: A secular state should be prepared to defend religious freedom and his article on Thinking Aloud Church, state and the secular society.

…The suggestion has been made that the Scottish Government does not have a mandate to introduce legislation which is of such fundamental significance for our society. The implication is that these are “non-negotiable” areas. If the Scottish Government was proposing to legislate to enshrine in law discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, colour or race, I would publicly oppose their moral right to do so. But that is not the nature of these consultation proposals.

So what does this say about the relationship of church and state in modern society? I have often said that I am a supporter of the secular state because it sustains a proper separation between legislature, judiciary and church.

In my Irish background, I have experienced both the confessional state which was the Irish Republic in my childhood and the Northern Irish mirror image – the sabbatarian “lock up the playgrounds on Sunday” society. Neither was healthy. A secular state should defend religious freedom – but it will not make any assumptions about religious faith nor defer to it.

If, following the consultation period, the Scottish Government and parliament feel that they should legislate in this way, I believe that it is their right to do so. It is clear that there would be an “opt-out” protection for those who cannot accept this. Churches and faith groups would have to decide whether they wished to use or to stand outside the provisions of such legislation…

This has been reported also in the news columns of the Scotsman as Gay marriages backed by Episcopal Church* which is a most perverse interpretation of what the Primus has said. Which was this:

IN THE Scottish Episcopal Church, we’re thinking about our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage and other related issues. The definition of marriage set out in our Canons is that, “marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman”. That is the position of our church. It’s a difficult issue for us – as it is for all churches and faith groups. We have among our membership people who feel passionately that change is needed – and those who feel equally strongly that we should resist any attempt to broaden society’s understanding of marriage. The consultation period is very short. Among the things we shall say will be that if – and it’s a big “if” – we were to consider changing our canonical definition of marriage, that would require a two-year process in our General Synod, the outcome of which could not be predicted with any certainty.

We haven’t got involved in public debate about this. We’ve been asked for our view and we shall give it in a considered manner – believing that the time for public debate comes later…

* The Scotsman later changed its online headline to read Episcopal Church considers changing stance on gay marriages. Which is less of a stretch.


Same sex marriage in Scotland and the UK

Both the UK government and the devolved Scottish government are considering legislative changes to allow civil same-sex marriages.

This post by Adam Wagner at UK Human Rights Blog summarises the current legislative situation in both jurisdictions: Gay marriage on the way… but not quite yet.

…The Prime Minister said in his speech that “we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage.” In fact, to the annoyance of some campaigners, the consultation was announced by the Equalities Minister last month but will not begin until March of next year. According to gay news website Pink News, the Prime Minster personally intervened to ensure the law is changed “within the lifetime of this parliament“, but Liberal Conspiracy doubts whether this is now practically possible. By contrast, a Scottish consultation on gay marriage launched in September…

The Scottish Government’s consultation – which also covers the issue of civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises in Scotland – is already in progress, see The Registration of Civil Partnerships Same Sex Marriage – A Consultation.

This consultation paper seeks views on the possibility of allowing religious ceremonies for civil partnerships and the possible introduction of same sex marriage…

…The Scottish Government is choosing to make its initial views clear at the outset of this consultation. We tend towards the view that religious ceremonies for civil partnerships should no longer be prohibited and that same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other. We also believe that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies…

Objections to this proposal have been voiced strongly. In particular:

Archbishop Mario Conti issues Statement on marriage

Bishop Philip Tartaglia; “same sex ‘marriage’ is neither warranted nor needed”

FC Urges Against Gay Marriage – Statement Issued by the Free Church of Scotland Commission of Assembly

And most recently, Former SNP leader calls for gay marriage referendum.

There have been objections to the objections too. Most notably from the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, who preached this sermon last Sunday.

…It vexes me greatly to say so in public, but at such a time as this, there seems no alternative but to speak up. The behaviour of our brothers, the Roman Catholic Bishops in recent days, has been so unpleasant and so ill judged that it risks harming the good influence of the whole Christian community.

To behave as though bishops carry some kind of block vote to Holyrood, to threaten politicians and to decry those who want access to the dignity of marriage as unnatural…. to say these things seems to me to go too far.

Such comments from the leaders of the Roman Catholic church have left me feeling embarrassed as a Christian. There is a risk that all of the churches will appear to be out of touch, arrogant, conceited and rude. We don’t all have to agree but we are all called to behave charitably and there has been an absence of love in this relentlessly bitter campaign and it diminishes us all…

This led to news coverage in several places, including The Times (not available online without subscription) which ran a story with extensive quotes from the sermon under the headline Catholic views on gay marriage ‘unpleasant’.

And Channel 4 News hosted a discussion on the general topic (not specifically related to Scotland) which you can see here: Is Britain divided over the issue of gay marriage?


Church of Ireland sexuality row rumbles on

The Belfast Newsletter reports: CoE bishop at gay clergy row meeting.

A CONSERVATIVE Church of England bishop has attended a meeting of Church of Ireland clergy increasingly unhappy at their church’s response to a minister’s same-sex partnership.

There are few details about where Monday night’s meeting, which was first revealed by this newspaper last Thursday, was held, or how many were present.

However, the News Letter understands that the meeting included an address by Bishop Wallace Benn, a leading figure on the right of the Church of England…

The Newsletter also quotes an editorial in the forthcoming edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette. Full text of editorial below the fold.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that, as a result of this whole scenario, the Church of Ireland’s very unity is imperilled,” the editorial says.

“For that reason, it is somewhat concerning that the bishops refer to a need for yet further study and research on related biblical, theological and legal issues, because such could be a charter for years-long argumentation. We need to study such matters, but we also need to do so expeditiously.”

The editorial adds that in other Anglican churches the gay debate had seemed “interminable”. It says that the Windsor Report, which in an attempt to ease tensions led to the Anglican Covenant, had bought more time “but more time turns out to have been precisely not what was needed”.

“Now, the communion has reached breaking point and we have two primates’ meetings and a whole new Anglican church in north America. The dragging on has been because, of course, the Anglican Communion cannot legislate for the communion as a whole.

“However, the Church of Ireland can legislate for the Church of Ireland, and so a clear regulation of the issue before us is needed urgently if we are not to find ourselves in a situation resembling that of the Anglican Communion in all its woes.

“The Church of Ireland probably can contain itself for the process which the bishops have outlined, but it will be difficult.”

The Archbishop of Armagh, Alan Harper has commented further on the recent pastoral letter from the Irish bishops in his diocesan synod presidential address. See detailed report here. Text also available here.