Thinking Anglicans

WATCH: ‘A Way in the Wilderness’

WATCH have announced an event A Way in the Wilderness to be held at the start of next week’s meeting of General Synod.

They will be gathering at St Margaret’s Westminster on 6 February from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm for a panel discussion and service in the course of which they will hear from two of the Anglican Communion’s women bishops about their experience of episcopal ministry and pray for the guidance and blessing of the Holy Spirit on the General Synod.

Details and an invitation to the event are below the fold.



Not in its backyard

The following article is reproduced here by kind permission of the Editor of The Tablet where it appeared in last week’s issue.



public opinion surveys on bishops in the House of Lords

British Religion in Numbers reports on the survey behind the claim made by the Sun that

‘Six out of ten Brits think bishops should be booted out of the House of Lords after defeating plans to cap benefits at £26,000 a year.’

As BRIN explains, in Lords Spiritual:

The survey was undertaken online on 24 January 2012, among a sample of 749 adults aged 18 and over, and in the wake of the amendment to the Bill passed by the House of Lords the previous night, which had the effect of excluding child benefit from the £26,000 cap being proposed by the Government. Data tables have been posted at:

Read the full article for reference to an earlier (2010) survey on the same topic, and look in the comments for a further link to yet another recent survey, this one for the Sunday Times.

All this has some relevance to the forthcoming General Synod debate on a Private Member’s Motion on House of Lords Reform.

The briefing papers are here:

Tony Berry and April Alexander
Background Note by the Secretary General


The Case against the Archbishops’ Amendment

WATCH has published a paper explaining The Case against the Archbishops’ Amendment. This is reproduced in full below the fold.

The reason for doing this now is that next week the General Synod will debate a Diocesan Synod Motion from the Diocese of Manchester. The motion reads:

That this Synod call 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”.

The briefing papers relating to this can be found here:
Diocese of Manchester
Diocese of Southwark (this diametrically opposed DSM will be moved as an amendment to the Manchester one)
Secretary General’s Background Note

The full voting records from the July 2010 debate, when this was previously considered, can be found here.



responses to the Sentamu interview

Updated again Tuesday evening

Libby Purves wrote an article for The Times titled Retreat from your battle against gay marriage. Only Times subscribers can read it, but if you are such a person, it is well worth reading. Here is the link.
A small fragment is reproduced here.

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief that John Sentamu’s argument against gay marriage is already lost.

The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, hopes that people will pay attention to other things in his most recent interview than his attack on gay marriage. Fat chance. When he said that the government will be acting as dictators have done if it introduces gay marriage, he put himself squarely in the wrong on a matter that people care about.

Nor does he give what I think are likely to be his real, animating reasons: that he believes gay marriage is bad because it makes being gay look normal and even admirable, and because gay people should not have sex with each other. Around most of the world, and certainly in most of the Anglican Communion, these would be perfectly respectable and uncontroversial things to say. But in modern Britain they are a minority view, and certainly not a respectable one. They are not going to win a political argument – and that’s what he’s fighting here…

Archbishop Cranmer published Sentamu pitches for Canterbury.

Terry Sanderson of the NSS wrote at Huffington Post that Sentamu’s Shot at Gay Marriage Is Only the First Salvo in a Bitter Battle to Come.

John Smeaton of SPUC wrote British government is afraid of the homosexual lobby.

Megan Moore wrote at Conservative Home that The Archbishop of York doesn’t deserve to be called a “bigot” by Twitter’s intolerants.

YorkVision reports YUSU slam Archbishop over marriage remarks. And see also Archbishop of York criticised for “outdated and homophobic rhetoric”.

Peter Tatchell wrote Archbishop Sentamu is “intolerant and out of touch” and also Archbishop Sentamu Has No Right to Block Gay Civil Marriages.

The Uganda Humanist Association writes Sentamu, your words will travel.

JP Floru Director of Programmes at the Adam Smith Institute, wrote in the Telegraph Gay marriage won’t make the world stop turning

…It is interesting to see that in the most recent debate on the issue of gay marriage, the bigots are falling out of the closet left, right and centre. They speak in code. Instead of shouting that “allowing gays to marry will demean Marriage”, they argue that “any marriage other than one between a male and female would change the meaning of marriage”. In other words: We Believe that Your Union is of Lesser Value than Ours – and the Law should Reflect This! Talk of totalitarianism.

Another argument is the “most people don’t want this” one. Well, there probably was a time when most people believed slavery was quite a useful little custom. A democratic majority does not legitimise trampling over the right of individuals to be treated as equal humans. Democracy can only be accepted by all if the power of the state to trample upon individuals is made impossible…



Emily Dugan interviews Giles Fraser for The Independent: ‘I’ve spent my life on the naughty step’.

Giles Fraser’s Church Times column this week is Bankers are victims, too, in the City cult.

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph that Migraine cannot explain Hildegard [of Bingen] and, in another article, that Christmas ends next Thursday.

Cullen Murphy lists The Top 10 Questions Everyone Has About the Inquisition in The Huffington Post (and gives the answers).


Don't legalise gay marriage, Sentamu warns David Cameron

Updated Sunday evening

Martin Beckford of the Telegraph has spent the week in Jamaica with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

In Saturday’s Telegraph he has two articles:

Dr John Sentamu: Church must avoid being ‘too middle class’

…While the focus has often been on the introduction of homosexual and female clergy, Dr Sentamu is aware that the Church must do more to avoid its leadership being solely white and middle class.

“I used to chair the committee for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, and we seemed to be making some progress but that now seems to be going backwards. Where we have lost out is black people who had been realised Anglicans, who are now joining Pentecostal churches. That’s a huge drain.”

He said white working-class parishioners were also poorly represented in the Church’s leadership, often being relegated to making tea after services, and highlighted support groups for single mothers and replacing theological books with audio versions as ways to help disadvantaged groups.

“The Church should be a sign of the kingdom of heaven and should be telling us what it will look like. Heaven is not going to be full of just black people, just working-class people, just middle-class people, it’s going to be, in the words of Desmond Tutu, a rainbow people of God in all its diversity.”

Don’t legalise gay marriage, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu warns David Cameron

NB This article now also includes a video interview. Watching it is recommended.

…But the Archbishop says it is not the role of the state to redefine marriage, threatening a new row between the Church and state just days after bishops in the House of Lords led a successful rebellion over plans to cap benefits.

“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”

Earlier this week, Lynne Featherstone (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Equalities Office) answered this question in parliament on the subject:

(1) what recent discussions she has had with (a) the Church of England and (b) other church groups on same sex marriages in church;

(2) what representations she has received from the Church of England on same sex marriages in church.

The Government will publish a formal consultation on equal civil marriage in March 2012. I have met with a wide range of organisations ahead of this consultation including with representatives from the following church organisations: Church of England, Catholic Church, the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Institute, Quakers and Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. Discussions have been held and are ongoing with other organisations including those representing other faith groups, non-religious groups and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

This consultation will not propose any changes to religious marriage. Same-sex couples will not be able, under these proposals, to have a marriage through a religious ceremony on religious premises.


Rosalind English has written this at UK Human Rights Blog: Archbishop on warpath.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has thrown a firecracker into the consultation on gay marriage, which is about to begin in March. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he declared that he did not agree that it was the role of the state to define what marriage is. ”It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are”.


Women bishops and the February General Synod

Last week’s Church Times carried a detailed report which is now available to non-subscribers: Synod given chance to signal its wishes on women bishops by Margaret Duggan and Ed Thornton.

THE subject of women bishops will dominate the General Synod’s meeting in Church House, West­minster, next month.

Dr Colin Podmore, the new Clerk to the Synod, said at a press briefing a week ago that there were four separate items about it on the agenda, with ten documents to back them. It would be the first time that the membership of the current Synod, elected a year-and-a-half ago, has tackled the subject, and so it would be of great interest to see which way they might go.

The secretary-general, William Fittall, refused to speculate on any outcome. He said that it would be a very significant chapter in a debate that had already gone on for more than a decade. It would be a chance for the Synod to reflect on the draft legislation, and on the Illustrative Draft Code of Practice.

Members would be invited to make suggestions and recom­mendations, but not to make amendments; only the House of Bishops could amend the legislation when it met in May. Should any of those amendments be substantial, the legislation would have to be referred to the diocese again; otherwise, the final vote could be next July…

Scroll down the same page for a second article: Illustrative code by Glyn Paflin.

THE Code of Practice on women bishops cannot be settled until the Measure itself has been passed, but the Synod will debate an Illustrative Draft Code of Practice on the Tuesday of its next meeting.

Drafted by a House of Bishops working party, chaired by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, it supersedes the illustrative draft produced by another group in 2008, owing The House of Bishops debated the new draft code in December, and the Archbishops’ foreword to the report says that the House “does not wish to see any outcome that would entrench radical division or given any impression of a ‘two-tier’ episcopate”. But it is com­mitted to “the most adequate and sustainable provision for theo­logical dissent over the ordination of women”, and seeks “a balanced provision” that will enable all members of the Church of England to “flourish”.

The House has committed itself to three principles: (1) ensuring that bishops do not discriminate when selecting candidates for ordination on grounds of their theological convictions about the admission of women to holy orders; (2) paying heed, when new bishops are chosen to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes, to the theological convictions on women’s ordination of those who issued the Letter of Request for their ministry; and (3) maintaining a supply of bishops who can minister to those unable to accept women bishops…

Earlier this week Andrew Brown wrote for the Guardian that The Church of England’s fudge on female bishops is breathtaking.

The Church of England’s House of Bishops – for which, read the archbishops of Canterbury and York – has explained how they hope to mollify the opponents of female clergy. The proposals are breathtaking.

The archbishops envisage that the Church of England, once it has female bishops, will continue ordaining men who do not accept these women, finding them jobs they will deign to accept, and promoting some of them to be bishops who will work to ensure the continued supply of male priests who refuse to accept female clergy. In fact, the church will pay three bishops (the formerly “flying” sees of Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and Beverley) to work full time against their female colleagues, and to nourish the resistance.

The General Synod, last summer, rejected the archbishops’ plan to fix a reservation in law where the opponents could live as if nothing had changed. Now they have brought back the same proposals, but call them “a code of practice” instead. In theory, this gives both sides what they want. In reality neither will find it easy to accept.

Obviously this will be unacceptable to most supporters of women’s ordination. But the cream of the joke is that it will probably be unacceptable to their principled opponents as well. The unscrupulous ones will, of course, be very happy with the deal.

Despite all these concessions, there will be female bishops, as there are already female priests, and these will be treated exactly the same as male ones – except by the men who don’t want to treat them equally and who believe that God has called them to undermine women’s authority wherever it appears.

This is apparently Rowan Williams’s idea of justice…

To read in full what the archbishops wrote in their Foreword to the Report of the Working Group on an Illustrative Draft Code of Practice, see the first couple of pages of GS Misc 1007, available as a PDF here.


Government defeated in Lords by a bishop's amendment

Updated again Thursday morning

The Press Association reports:

The Government has suffered a defeat over its welfare reform proposals as peers supported a move to exempt child benefit from the £26,000 benefits cap.

Peers voted by 252 to 237, majority 15, in favour of an amendment introduced by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, which received Labour backing.

He said: “It cannot be right for the cap to be the same for a childless couple as for a couple with children. Child benefit is the most appropriate way to right this unfairness.”
He argued that, in effect, the cap denied child benefit payments to people whose other benefits had reached £500 a week.

“This cap is not simply targeted at wealthy families living in large houses,” he said. “It will damage those who have to pay high rents because often that rent has increased substantially in the course of their occupancy of that house.”

The defeat was the fifth the Government has received on the Bill, including three on one day earlier this month…

Or, as Channel 4 News reported:

An amendment tabled by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, calling for child benefit to be excluded from the cap, was passed by 252 votes to 237, a majority of 15.

A Labour amendment to exempt families threatened by homelessness from the cap was rejected by 250 votes to 222, a majority of 28. But 17 Liberal Democrats, coalition partners with the Conservatives, supported it.

The Lords was debating the government’s plans to ensure that a workless household cannot claim more than £26,000 a year in benefits – the average income after tax of a working family. The cap is equivalent to £500 a week for people with children.

Labour backed Bishop Packer’s amendment, despite being in favour of a cap in principle.

Bishop Packer said the cap “failed to differentiate between households with children and those without”, adding: “This cap is not simply targeted at wealthy families living in large houses. It will damage those who have to pay high rents because often that rent has increased substantially in the course of their occupancy of that house.”

The record of the debate on this amendment starts here.

The voting record on this amendment can be found here.

Five bishops voted in favour of the amendment: Chichester, Ripon & Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Manchester.

On an earlier amendment: Ripon and Leeds; Chichester

On this amendment: Ripon and Leeds; Chichester

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif Belief that This welfare bill has united bishops like never before.

The Children’s Society issued this Statement in response to the Government’s defeat in the House of Lords with regard to the proposed benefit cap set out in Welfare Reform Bill:

“The Lords have stood up to the Government and sent a clear message in support of children up and down the country.

“The Children’s Society is delighted that the Lords have seen sense today and excluded child benefit when calculating the benefit cap. Children should not be held responsible and penalised for the employment circumstances of their parents.

“Child benefit is a non-means tested benefit paid to working and non-working families. It’s a benefit all households with children are entitled to and is there to help with the cost of having children.

“If the intention of the benefit cap is to promote fairness, it is totally unfair that a small family with a household income of £80,000 a year receive it, yet a large family with a benefit income of £26,000 are excluded.

“The Government must not ignore the fact that the Lords have spoken out to defend the plight of some of the country’s most disadvantaged children”.

The Guardian has a review of media reactions to all this here.

The BBC has an interesting analysis: What is the role of bishops in UK politics?

George Carey My fellow bishops are wrong. Fuelling the culture of welfare dependency is immoral.

The Bishop of Leicester writes in the Telegraph ‘Lord Carey was wrong to defend government’s welfare reforms’.

The Independent has a leading article: Bishops and benefits don’t mix.



Alain de Botton, writing in the Comment is free belief section of The Guardian asks Should art really be for its own sake alone? “If art museums are the new churches, perhaps they should end the veneration of ambiguity and start serving our inner needs.”

Also at Comment is free belief Diarmaid MacCulloch writes that Compulsory celibacy is wrong and damaging for all clergy – straight or gay. “Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that A regiment forms a moral soldier.


Church of England reports on ACNA

Updated again Saturday evening

GS Misc 1011 has been published: The Church of England and the Anglican Church in North America (PDF).

The document is published over the signatures of the two archbishops.

The final sections read as follows:

15. Where then do matters currently stand concerning ACNA on each of these
three issues, namely relations with the Church of England, relations with the
Anglican Communion and the ability of ACNA clergy to be authorised to
minister in the Church of England?

16. The Synod motion rightly began by referring to “the distress caused by recent
divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and
Canada.” That distress, in which we share, is a continuing element in the
present situation and is likely to remain so for some considerable time.

17. Wounds are still fresh. Those who follow developments in North America
from some distance have a responsibility not to say or do anything which will
inflame an already difficult situation and make it harder for those directly
involved to manage the various challenges with which they are still grappling.

18. We would, therefore, encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on
the part of the Church of England and the Communion, while recognising that
the outcome is unlikely to be clear for some time yet, especially given the
strong feelings on all sides of the debate in North America.

19. The Church of England remains fully committed to the Anglican Communion
and to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the
Episcopal Church (TEC). In addition, the Synod motion has given Church of
England affirmation to the desire of ACNA to remain in some sense within the
Anglican family.

20. Among issues that will need to be explored in direct discussions between the
Church of England and ACNA are the canonical situation of the latter, its
relationship to other Churches of the Communion outside North America and
its attitude towards existing Anglican ecumenical agreements.

21. Where clergy from ACNA wish to come to England the position in relation to
their orders and their personal suitability for ministry here will be considered
by us on a case by case basis under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry
and Ordination) Measure 1967.


Episcopal News Service reports this development with the headline Archbishops suggest ‘open-ended engagement’ with breakaway Anglicans.

The American Anglican Council comments on it in its weekly update (scroll down for the article by Phil Ashey).

ACNA itself has now published this statement: Anglican Church Embraces Working Relationship with Church of England and the bulk of it is quoted below the fold.



Church Commissioners' Parliamentary Questions: 19 January 2012

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, answered six Oral Parliamentary Questions and one Written in the Commons yesterday (19 January) covering metal theft, Christian communities in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, marriage, cathedrals and the Lord’s Prayer.

The questions and answers are in Hansard: oral answers and written answers, and are copied below the fold.



CofE's Osborne report finally published

The Church Times has today published an electronic copy of the Osborne Report on homosexuality. This should have been published in 1989.

In an accompanying article, the Very Revd Dr Jane Shaw explains the background to its suppression at the time.

When the CofE wanted to talk
A new (all-male) group is rethinking Issues in Human Sexuality, the 1991 report that remains the Bishops’ line on homo­sexuality…

The increasing acceptance of gay men and lesbians in the wider society in the 1970s and ’80s meant that the Church of England had to address the subject. In 1979, a church report, Homosexual Relationships: A con­tribu­tion to discussion, was published, but was considered too liberal by many in the Church.

So, in 1986, a standing committee of the House of Bishops asked the Board for Social Responsibility to set up a working party to advise the bishops. This resulted in the Osborne report of 1989 (chaired by the Revd June Osborne, a member of the Board), which drew on the direct testimony of gay and lesbian Chris­tians…

The full text of the report is available as an 8Mb PDF file.


Provisional attendance figures for 2010 released

The Church of England has released its provisional attendance figures for 2010. The press release (copied below) gives a summary of the figures, and links to the full figures.

Provisional attendance figures for 2010 released – marriages up four per cent, national ‘mapping’ identifies at least 1,000 fresh expressions of church
19 January 2012

The latest local church attendance figures from the Church of England for 2010 show that approaching 1.7 million people continue to attend Church of England services each month, and around 1.1 million attend one of the Church of England’s 16,000 churches as part of a typical week.

The figures additionally highlight for the first time the results of innovative Church initiatives, such as the ecumenical Fresh Expressions movement and the Archbishops’ Council’s Weddings Project.

Following extensive work by the Weddings Project and the introduction of the 2008 Marriage Measure, marriages in the Church of England increased by four per cent in 2010.

Across all dioceses the statistics reveal at least 1,000 fresh expressions and new forms of church, linked to the Church of England, reaching into communities. There are an estimated 1,000 fresh expressions within the Methodist Church.

The full statistics are available online, in the Resources sidebar.

continued below the fold



Occupy St Paul's protesters lose high court eviction battle

The Press Association reports:

The City of London Corporation has won its high court bid to evict anti-capitalist protesters from outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

In a judgment that followed a five-day hearing held before Christmas, Mr Justice Lindblom granted orders for possession and injunctions against Occupy London.

He said that the proposed action was “entirely lawful and justified” as well as necessary and proportionate and refused permission to appeal although the protesters have seven working days to renew their applications directly to the Court of Appeal.

The corporation agreed not to enforce the orders until 4pm on 27 January pending such a move, which is to be launched on Friday…

The full judgment can be found via the UK Human Rights Blog at Occupy London to be evicted – full judgment.

St Paul’s Cathedral issued this statement:

“We have always said that a permanent camp is an unsustainable forum, but would reiterate to the protestors that we have offered a number of alternative platforms for the important issues they raise to be voiced. We are, through those platforms, committed to engage in the continued debate on these issues and believe St Paul’s can be an effective forum for such debate.”

David Shariatmadari reports for the Guardian that Occupy London protesters greet news of eviction ruling with quiet dismay.


Discrimination alleged in the Church of England

Updated again on 1 February

There were two news reports in Sunday newspapers concerning the Dean of St Albans.
One was in the Mail on Sunday and written by Jonathan Petre, see ‘I’ll sue Church of England if it bars me from being bishop,’ says gay dean. (A later version with a quite different headline appears here.)

The other was in the Sunday Times by Kate Mansey but is hidden behind a paywall. However, I can say that it included a long quote from the memorandum written by Colin Slee and published some time ago in connection with a Guardian news story.

Several other newspapers have followed up these reports. The most thoughtful is the Independent which has today published the following items:

Andrew Brown has this analysis: Why is this gay cleric considering suing the church if he won’t win?

…Look at the small print of its legal opinion on civil partnerships, transparently designed to prevent John from being able to sue for discrimination. No selection committee would ask straight candidates for a job whether they had ever had pre-marital sex, and, if they had, whether they were jolly sorry for it. Yet the Church of England believes that it is legally and morally OK to ask the equivalent questions of gay men: “Whether the candidate had always complied with the church’s teachings on sexual activity being solely within matrimony; whether he had expressed repentance for any previous pre-marital sexual activity.”

That is offensive enough, but the real point is found in the apparently balanced statements of disagreement. “It is clear that a significant number of Anglicans, on grounds of strongly held religious conviction, believe that a Christian leader should not entire into a civil partnership, even if celibate … it is equally clear that many other Anglicans believe it is appropriate that clergy who are gay by orientation entire into civil partnerships.” This formulation gives the game away. It is only conservative evangelical opinion which is described as “strongly held religious conviction”. The liberals merely “believe it is appropriate”, with the implication that their beliefs on this are not religious at all. This kind of nonsense was dealt with decades ago where women priests were concerned. What needs saying, loud and clear, is that the case for liberalism here is every bit as religious, and as theologically informed, as the case for the conservatives…

Two further analyses:

New Statesman Nelson Jones Bishop sacrifice

When it was announced that the Church of England had established an advisory group on human sexuality, consisting of four bishops and a retired civil servant, there was some criticism of the fact that all its members were (ahem) male. But that was only to be expected, and not just because it happens to be a group of bishops, which remains, for the time being at least, an exclusively male club. In Anglican parlance, “human sexuality” is code for, “What do we do about the gays?”

…In the case of the Church of England, there are currently two major sticking points, which may or may not be linked: the question of whether civil partnership ceremonies should be allowed to take place in church, and the question of whether openly gay men, even if celibate, should be allowed to become bishops. In both cases the present situation is one of studied hypocrisy…

Episcopal Café Jim Naughton Misleading media coverage: the latest in the Jeffrey John saga

There is a full report in the Church Times see C of E policy on appointing bishops may face legal test

And the Press column by Andrew Brown is now also available to non-subscribers: An enemy hath spun this

…Right at the bottom of the Mail’s story was the line that “one source said Dr John suggested he would drop his legal threat if he felt he would not be ruled out for future posts.”

Of course, a huge amount turns on whether this source was a friend or enemy of Dr John, because the Sunday Times story and the Mail on Sunday’s headline both invite the riposte that they got from George Pit­cher on the Mail’s web­site.

He wasted no time on the ball, and went straight for the man: “We’re forced to ask how seriously we’re likely to take him as a bishop if we har­bour the sus­picion that he won his post, even by sugges­tion, because he’d declared that if he wasn’t de­livered such-and-such a bish­opric then he’d sue.”

But is that really why Dr John was discus­sing legal action? It is clearly true that Alison Downie has been corresponding with church legal authorities on his behalf. But friends — real friends — of his, and allies, too, suggest that what he was trying to do instead was to ensure that civil partnerships are not in themselves a bar to promotion. That is just as upsetting to conservative Evangelicals as if he were actuated by personal ambition.

It is actually much more difficult for the Archbishop of Canterbury to handle, and much more appealing to public opinion. One begins to see why the story might have emerged from his enemies with the spin that it had.


General Synod – February 2012 – press release

The usual pre-synod press release has been issued by the Church of England this morning, and is copied below. It provides a summary of the business, much of which has nothing to do with women bishops.

Agenda for February 2012 General Synod
16 January 2012

Women bishops central to General Synod agenda that includes debates on assisted dying, health care, House of Lords reform, and Eucharistic prayers for use when children are present

The General Synod will meet at Church House from 2.15 pm on Monday 6 February until late-afternoon Thursday 9 February.

The Synod will be spending a significant amount of time on the major legislative process designed to make it possible for women to be bishops while also making some provision for those who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive their ministry. This will be the present Synod’s first opportunity to engage with that process since it was elected 18 months ago.

There will be four separate items of business dealing with different aspects of this complicated process, on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These include fine-tuning of the draft Measure and consideration of making specific requests to the House of Bishops in relation to the next stage of the process in May. In addition, the Synod will have a presentation and opportunity for questions on the report from a working group on an illustrative draft Code of Practice that would be made once the legislation had been approved. These debates lead towards a possible final debate in July.

Other items of legislative business include the approval of an Order that completes a new framework for the charging of fees for weddings, funerals etc and the revision of a draft Measure amending aspects of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

Legislation is an important function of the Synod but not the only one. Its Constitution says its second main function is ‘to consider and express their opinion on any other matters of religious or public interest’. There are some quite important matters of religious and public interest on the agenda for February.

On the Monday, Synod will be asked to approve the sending of a Loyal Address to H. M. the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. By coincidence there will be an added poignancy in the fact that 6 February will be the 60th anniversary of King George VI’s death and therefore of The Queen’s Accession. Synod will also be invited to approve the appointment of a new member of the Archbishops’ Council, whose name will be announced nearer the time.

Synod will have the opportunity to debate an important matter of religious and public interest in the Private Members Motion on the issue of assisted suicide. Also of interest will be a presentation on the Tuesday about the Anglican Alliance for Relief, Development and Advocacy. This was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury and grew out of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. It aims to co-ordinate the work of the Anglican Communion internationally on relief and development issues.

On the Tuesday evening members of the Synod will join members of the United Reformed Church for a service in Westminster Abbey marking both the 350th anniversary of the departure from the Established Church of those who felt unable to accept ordination by bishops and use the Book of Common Prayer and also the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of the United Reformed Church, which took place in the Abbey.

There is a significant matter of internal Synod business on Wednesday, 8 February. Up to now, the Chair of the Business Committee which sets the Synod’s agenda has been appointed from among the six members directly elected to the Archbishops’ Council. That is a very narrow pool and it is now proposed that in future the Chair of the Business Committee should be elected by and from among the whole Synod. There are a number of other miscellaneous amendments to the Standing Orders.

Synod is in the process of authorizing new Eucharistic Prayers for use at services at which there are significant numbers of children present – at a Communion service in a church school, for example. They have been revised in the light of members’ comments and the Synod will consider the revised texts on Thursday 9 February.

The Synod will also receive a presentation about how the Church plans to respond to changes in the funding of higher education which will have a significant impact on the cost of training new clergy. At present, ordinands receive degrees and certificates from 19 different universities. The proposal is that the Church of England, with its partner churches, should establish a single suite of HE awards with a single set of validation arrangements. Some ordinands will continue to study for general theology degrees of universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, but for those on courses leading to a qualification specifically designed for ordinands there will only be one set of qualifications.

Finally, on the Thursday afternoon there will be a debate on the reform of the House of Lords and a debate about Health Care. The Church of England has always had a strong commitment to the ideals of the NHS. The debate will give the Synod an opportunity to offer a public expression of the Church’s concerns and priorities in the light of its vocation to seek health and healing. There is a particular call in the motion for chaplaincy provision to remain part of the core structure of the NHS, a position recently backed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. There is also a commendation of the work of Anglican agencies and networks in promoting health and wholeness worldwide.

Communicating Synod

Parishioners can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website ( ahead of the General Synod sessions.

A live feed will be available courtesy of Premier Radio (accessible from front page, and audio files of debates, along with updates on each day’s proceedings, will be posted during the sessions.

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General Synod – February 2012 – online papers

Online copies of the papers for the February 2012 meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online; they are listed below, with links and a note of the day they are scheduled for debate. I will update the list as more papers become available.

Updated Friday 27 January All papers are now online and linked below. In addition they can all be downloaded in one zip file.
Updated Monday 30 January The first eight notice papers are also available and are linked below.
Updated Monday 6 February Links to an addendum for GS 1854C and to more notice papers have been added.

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1849) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.

The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.

GS 1848 Full Agenda
GS 1849 Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

Women Bishops legislation

GS Misc 1007 Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure: Draft Code of Practice2012 [Tuesday]
GS 1854A, GS 1854B, GS 1854C, GS 1854C Addendum Diocesan Synod Motion: Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Wednesday]
GS 1847 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Wednesday]
GS 1708B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Thursday]
GS 1709B Draft Amending Canon
GS 1708-9Z Report by the Steering Committee (GS 1708-9Z)
GS Misc 1012 Women in the Episcopate: Future Process

Other papers for debate

GS 1814A Draft Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure2012 [Tuesday]
GS 1814Y Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1822A Additional Eucharistic Prayers [Thursday]
GS 1822Y Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1846A and GS 1846B Diocesan Synod Motion: Appointment of Archdeacons [Wednesday]

GS 1850 Approval Of Appointments To The Archbishops’ Council [Monday]

GS 1851A and GS 1851B Private Member’s Motion: Independent Commission On Assisted Dying [Monday]

GS 1852 Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2012 [Tuesday]
GS 1852X Explanatory Memorandum
GS Misc 1015 Draft Fees Order, An explanation of the proposed fee levels

GS 1853 Draft Diocese in Europe Measure 2012 [Tuesday]
GS 1853X Explanatory Memorandum (GS 1853X)

GS 1855 Chair of the Business Committee and Miscellaneous Amendments: Forty-Sixth Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Wednesday]

GS 1856A and GS 1856B Private Member’s Motion: Reform Of The House Of Lords [Thursday]

GS 1857 Health Care and the Church’s Mission: Report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council [Thursday]

GS 1858 The Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Consequential Provisions) Order 2012
GS 1858X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1859A and GS 1859B Manifestation of Faith in Public Life [contingency business]

GS Misc 1008 Higher Education Funding Changes [Thursday]

Other papers

GS Misc 1003 Lords Spiritual: Parliamentary Spokespeople
GS Misc 1004 House of Lords Reform
GS Misc 1005 Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises
GS Misc 1006 The 39th Report of the Central Stipends Authority
GS Misc 1009 Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches
GS Misc 1010 Report on Pensions and Remuneration
GS Misc 1011 The Church of England and the Anglican Church in North America
GS Misc 1012 Women in the Episcopate: Future Process
GS Misc 1013 Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
GS Misc 1014 The August Riots, Responding to Austerity and the State of Society
GS Misc 1015 Draft Fees Order, An explanation of the proposed fee levels
GS Misc 1016 Archbishops’ Council Apportionment 2012 and table
GS Misc 1017 Resourcing Christian Community Action: Parishes and Partnerships
GS Misc 1018 Archbishops’ Council response to Richard Moy’s Private Member’s Motion on Visual and Video resources for worship

HBM2 House of Bishops: Summary of Decisions
A(12)1 Appointments Committee: Recent Appointments

Notice Papers

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 3
Notice Paper 4
Notice Paper 5
Notice Paper 6
Notice Paper 7
Notice Paper 8
Notice Paper 9
Notice Paper 10
Notice Paper 11
Notice Paper 12
Notice Paper 13
Notice Paper 14
Notice Paper 15



February General Synod

The Church of England General Synod will meet in London from 6 to 9 February. We have already published the outline agenda and an article about the women bishops legislation.

The usual pre-synod press briefing was held yesterday, resulting in these two reports. Apart from one sentence in each case, they are entirely about the women bishops legislation.

Ed Thornton in the Church Times Women bishops: weathervane debate next month

If the Bishops do amend the legislation, it will be up to the “group of six” — the two Archbishops, the chair and vice-chair of the House of Laity, and the two prolocutors — to decide, after legal advice, whether those amendments have changed the substance of the legislation. If so, it would have to be sent back to the dioceses for further consideration.

Martin Beckford in The Telegraph Archbishops reassure traditionalists ahead of women bishops debates

The two most senior clerics in the Church have stated that they do not want would-be priests to be discriminated against if they oppose the ordination of women.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York also said they would try to ensure there is a continuing supply of traditionalist bishops to cater for parishes who do not want to be looked after by a female bishop.

The papers for Synod are not yet online, but we will list them when they are.



Rowan Moore Gerety writes in Killing the Buddha about Buying the Body of Christ.

The Guardian comments on a letter from a bishop: Bishops rail against Sunday excursions.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Running can seem like prayer.

On YouTube there is this: David Attenborough’s – Primate Crisis.

Desmond Tutu writes for The Huffington Post about Made for Goodness.