Thinking Anglicans


Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, Senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens, writes for The Church of Ireland Gazette: Greece in crisis – the Churches respond.

Theo Hobson writes in The Guardian that Rowan Williams was always an enemy of the liberal state.

Lewis Galloway writes for Day1 about this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43): Taking Jesus Seriously.


WATCH petition

WATCH: Women and the Church has launched an online petition urging the House of Bishops to withdraw its amendment to clause 5 of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

The petition can be seen, and signed, here: The House of Bishops [of the Church of England]: Withdraw Clause 5(1)c.


Church Times and women bishops

The Church Times has today published this longer than usual leading article: Women bishops: what should happen next.

THE General Synod is in trouble. In ten days’ time, it is to consider giving final approval to the consecration of women bishops. In the normal run of things, this would be the stage for a general debate in which the participants return to first principles, examine whether the legislation does or does not fulfil their wishes, and vote accordingly. This debate looks increasingly unlikely to happen…

The effect of the amendments has been the opposite of what was intended, however. The failure of opponents to endorse them, understandable though this may be, and the fierce rejection of them by many of the proponents, to the extent that some have been calling for the Measure to be voted down, mean that the Meas­ure might fall in both the Houses of Laity and Clergy. This would be a farcical end to the long, tortuous synodical process, and hard to square with the overwhelming vote in the diocesan synods…

The Synod is in danger of attracting widespread puzzlement if it fails to agree women bishops after such a long process. Put simply, it must not fail. Anxiety has been expressed about the precedent set by allowing parishes to choose their own type of priest (as if this did not happen at present). A far more worrying precedent will be set if Synod members cannot find a way to live in the same Church as those with whom they disagree.

There is also this news item: Women bishops: ‘little silver balls won’t stay in their holes’.


Catholic Group in General Synod writes to members

Another letter to General Synod members about the bishops’ amendments to the women bishops legislation is circulating. This time it is from the Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod.

Subject: Women Bishop Legislation

Dear fellow member of General Synod,

Some supporters of women bishops are now urging us to send the draft Women Bishops legislation back to the House of Bishops for them to reconsider their amendments; the same people are advising us to vote against the Measure if the House of Bishops do not withdraw their amendments. We need to reflect very carefully what referring the matter back to the Bishops would do to the Church of England.

What the Bishops have done is entirely reasonable in terms of the synodical process. It is consistent with how the majority of the Synod voted in February: the Southwark motion calling for no amendments at all to be made by the House of Bishop was itself amended by Pete Spiers so as to request that no substantial amendments be made.

The Bishops’ amendments are consistent with the original substance of the Measure; that is the clear advice of the Legal Office (reproduced in the annex to GS 1708-1709ZZ); it is also the decision of the majority of the Group of Six (Archbishops, Prolocutors, Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity). Members of Synod would do well to read the Legal Office’s advice very carefully before forming a view on the amendments.

The House of Bishops’ amendments are consistent with their responsibility to try to hold the Church of England together; their amendments are also consistent with their responsibility to find a way forward that stands a reasonable chance of success at Final Approval. Synod’s voting in May showed that unamended, this Measure was doomed to fail at Final Approval.

The present agitation also provides a warning as to what would lie ahead of us were this Measure to be passed, with or without amendment. The formation of the Code of Practice would become a new battleground. Were the House of Bishops to be forced to retreat over their amendments to the Measure, they would be forced to have the contents of the Code of Practice dictated to them. Even after the Code were initially agreed, it would be open to pressure groups to campaign to whittle away its provisions over time.

A recent survey by Christian Research has found that 69% of CofE members surveyed wanted to see women bishops, and 75% wanted to see proper provision made for opponents so that they are not forced out of the Church of England. We have to ask ourselves: how do we achieve legislation that is faithful to the majority of CofE members? Pressurising the House of Bishops into withdrawing their amendments is most clearly the wrong way. Reliance on a Code of Practice is now looking to be an increasingly shaky and temporary foundation for making provision – which is what the Catholic Group in General Synod and others have consistently said.

The Bishops’ amendments are very modest but welcome steps in the right direction for the Catholic Group, though they do not go far enough. We appreciate the good intentions of the House of Bishops, but we are surprised that even the little they have offered, others are now determined to take away.

With prayers and good wishes,
Simon Killwick.
The Revd. Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester 163)
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod)


Charity Commission rules CBS grant to Ordinariate is invalid

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament has issued a Statement by the Superior-General, Fr Christopher Pearson, at Council-General meeting, 28 June 2012.

The statement can be found on the CBS website, and can be downloaded as a PDF file.

The Charity Commission final decision is available in full here.


Our review concluded that:

  • The decision to make a grant to the Ordinariate was taken at an inquorate meeting, the majority of the trustees having a (financial) personal interest in the decision. It was also in breach of the charity’s governing document.
  • The meeting being inquorate, the decision was invalid. There was no valid exercise of the power to make a gift to the Ordinariate and the payment was unauthorised.
  • The gift is held upon constructive trust by the Ordinariate for the Confraternity.
  • The objects of the Ordinariate are wider than those of the Confraternity. A gift given to the Ordinariate without restriction could be used for purposes which have no connection with the Anglican tradition at all.
  • The precise meaning of Anglican Tradition is unclear but there is substantial doubt whether the Confraternity could make a grant to the Ordinariate (even with restrictions) which could be applied by the Ordinariate consistently with the objects of the Confraternity.
  • The Commission therefore considered the trustees of both charities were under a duty to take action to ensure the repayment of the money.

An example of the complaints sent to the Charity Commission can be found here.


Reform and women bishops

Reform has issued this statement saying that the bishops’ amendments are not sufficient and that they will encourage their members on General Synod to vote against the legislation as it stands.

Media Statement: Reform members on GS encouraged to vote against Women’s Measure: REFORM SAYS ‘FURORE’ OVER WOMEN BISHOPS SHOWS NEED FOR BETTER PROVISION
Posted on 27 June 2012

Wednesday 27th June 2012

Reform Chairman Rev’d Rod Thomas said today that “Reform deeply regrets that we have reached such an impasse on women bishops” with the current House of Bishops’ amendments not satisfying the conservative evangelical network’s concerns over their future in the Church of England.

Speaking in advance of a prayer meeting for over 200 Reform members in central London, Mr Thomas said: “We thank the House of Bishops for their work. They have tried to find a way through. But their amendments have not succeeded in persuading our members that there is a secure future for those who cannot in conscience accept the oversight of women as bishops. In light of that we will be encouraging our members on General Synod to vote against the legislation as it stands.”

Mr Thomas added: “The furore created by some in response to these small amendments reveals most clearly the reason why those who hold to our Biblical position need legislative clarity, not just a code of practice if we are to continue to encourage young people to come forward for ordination.

“There is clearly a desire on the part of some to see any provision for us as strictly temporary, despite the fact that we’re simply seeking to follow the Bible’s teaching about how God wants his Church to be organised. They hope we’ll just leave. However, we believe the majority of Anglicans want to honour the promises made to us over the last two decades to preserve a place for us in the Church of England. As it stands, the draft Measure doesn’t do this – and we’ll be asking General Synod to withhold approval of the draft Measure so that some proper compromises can be agreed.

“We face a very difficult situation, so we are urging our members to pray today for the House of Bishops, the General Synod and for the church’s witness in this country to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.”

The full statement also includes some background notes.


Gloucester Synod wants bishops to think again

Updated 2 July

Another diocesan synod has passed an emergency motion supporting the adjournment of the final vote on women bishops and a referral back to the House of Bishops. This was Gloucester which met on Tuesday evening this week (26 June) and passed the motion “overwhelmingly”.

Before the debate on the motion Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester, gave his presidential address in which he said “If we are not to avoid a debacle that I believe would be a catastrophe for the Church of England, the House of which I am a member must think again.”

There is now a report of the debate on the Gloucester diocesan website.


Anglican Covenant: some updates

First, a report from Australia Brisbane defers the Covenant. The motion they passed in diocesan synod was this:

That this Synod recommends to the General Synod that it:

  • Affirm the commitment of the Anglican Church of Australia to the Anglican Communion.
  • Affirm its readiness to engage with any ongoing process of consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant
  • Request clarification from the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council as to the status and direction of the Covenant Process in the light of the position of the Church of England.
  • Urge upon the Instruments of Communion a course of action which continues to see reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.

Second, Paul Bagshaw has two further articles discussing the recent meeting of the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” which we reported here.

In both these articles, he suggests that there may be conflicts between English charity law (which is what governs the ACC in its constitution) and the interpretations of the Anglican Covenant which the Standing Committee has adopted.

In the first article he also comments on the recent GS1878: report by the Business Committee on the reference [of the Covenant] to the dioceses.


Youth Day at Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Rowan welcomed around 80 students aged 15-18 years to Lambeth Palace for a day of sharing and discussion, reflection and worship, and a barbecue lunch.

The theme of the day (‘Help, my friends think I’m mad!’) looked at what it means to be a Christian in an increasingly secular environment. In his opening remarks the Archbishop talked about science and faith, women bishops, and whether being a Christian means giving up on common sense.

The full transcript of his remarks is available here.

Reports of the day have appeared:

Telegraph Christians must confront their own ‘disgust’ over homosexuality, says Archbishop by John Bingham

Guardian Williams: Christians need to confront shame and disgust over homosexuality by Ben Quinn

The paragraphs relevant to the press coverage are these:

…Then there’s sex; a matter of constant interest to pretty well the whole human race, including not only issues about what you do sexually, but also about gender – about men and women. You’ll have noticed that in the Church of England at the moment we’re in the middle of what looks like a pretty complicated argument about women bishops. I’m speaking as somebody who really very much wants to see women bishops as soon as possible. Like most of you, I am used to a world in which men and women share in decision‑making and discussion without any big issue. I really long to see a time when bishops, as a group, can be like that and feel more like other groups. It is something I am very committed to. I share the frustration of a lot of people, that we’re tangled-up in trying to get the maximum support for it in the Church of England and every move in one direction makes other people move away. It’s like one of those terrible games you get in Christmas crackers sometimes where you have to get the little silver balls into holes – you always get two of them but then the other one goes off somewhere else.

That’s an area where we are in the middle of quite a lot of tangles. Same with same‑sex marriage, where once more we’re used to being alongside people who are gay; many of our friends may be – indeed we may be – wrestling with that issue ourselves, and the Church is scratching its head and trying to work out where it is on all that, and what to think about it. What’s frustrating is that we still have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that that just sends out a message of unwelcome, of lack of understanding, of lack of patience. So whatever we think about it, we need, as a Church, to be tackling what we feel about it…


GRAS writes to General Synod members

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent the letter below to the members of General Synod to express their opposition to the bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, and urging Synod members to adjourn their debate to allow the bishops to think again.

Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

27th June 2012

Dear Member of General Synod,

The Act of Synod all over again

It’s the Act of Synod all over again – but worse this time: more divisive, and proposed to be written into law.

Amendment 5(1)(c) in the latest draft of the women bishops legislation (the Draft Bishops and Priests [Consecration and Ordination of Women] Measure) goes beyond the previously agreed form of the Measure in that it invites congregations to judge the theological convictions of the bishops they consider acceptable. This is unprecedented in privileging in law undefined theological positions, and in allowing congregations to sit in judgment over the characteristics of their bishop.

We have worked and prayed for many years for Women Bishops and would find it deeply painful to say No to this Measure. However, many people, who long for the Church of England to have women bishops, cannot support it in its present form.

We urge you to support an adjournment to allow time for the Bishops to reconsider Amendment 5(1)(c). If this does not happen, we ask you to prayerfully consider voting the amended measure down.

With our concern and prayers,
Yours sincerely,
Ruth McCurry
GRAS Chair


Senior women clergy write to General Synod members

A group of senior women clergy have sent the letter below to the members of General Synod to express their opposition to the bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, and urging Synod members to adjourn their debate to allow the bishops to think again.

To all members of General Synod:

Following the House of Bishops’ amendments many people have asked for the perspective of senior women clergy regarding the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure as it now stands.

We the undersigned wish to express our deep dismay at the introduction of Clause 5(1)(c), which has serious implications for the way the Church understands itself and undermines women so profoundly that we are now unable to support the Measure.

We recognise that bishops voted in favour of this amendment in good faith, believing that further assurances for those unable to accept the ministry of ordained women would help secure the Measure’s passing.

However, with the introduction of this clause the Measure is likely to be defeated. It is therefore our hope that the General Synod will adjourn the debate in July and return the legislation to the House of Bishops for further reflection. This will give the opportunity for the Measure (as passed by 42 of the 44 dioceses) to be returned to General Synod for approval later in the year.

The Venerable Christine Allsopp (Archdeacon of Northampton)
The Revd Canon Sarah Bullock (Bishop’s Advisor for Women’s Ministry Diocese of Manchester)
The Venerable Annette Cooper (Archdeacon of Colchester)
The Venerable Penny Driver (Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness)
The Very Revd Vivienne Faull (Dean of Leicester)
The Venerable Karen Gorham (Archdeacon of Buckingham)
The Revd Canon Jane Hedges (Canon Steward & Archdeacon of Westminster)
The Venerable Canon Janet Henderson (Archdeacon of Richmond)
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons)
The Revd Rosemary Lain-Priestley (Chair of the National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry)
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle (Dean of Birmingham)
The Very Revd June Osborne (Dean of Salisbury)

The Venerable Jane Sinclair (Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey)
The Revd Canon Celia Thomson (Canon Pastor, Gloucester Cathedral)
The Venerable Rachel Treweek (Archdeacon of Hackney)
The Very Revd Dr Frances Ward (Dean of St Edmundsbury)
The Venerable Christine Wilson (Archdeacon of Chesterfield)
The Revd Lucy Winkett (Rector, St James’s Piccadilly)


Parish income and ministry stats published

The Church of England has today published (5.6 MB pdf file) its latest information both about parish income and expenditure and about trends in ministry numbers in Church Statistics 2010/11.

The press release states that:

The attendance statistics included were published in January 2012. This year’s financial statistics show that parish giving remained resilient in 2010 despite the general economic situation. With investment income still at the reduced level experienced in recent years overall parish income was marginally ahead of the previous year.

The rest of the press release is copied below the fold.

Earlier statistics are available here.


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Bishops disagree with Church of England policy on equal marriage

The Telegraph reports today on this.

Ed Malnick and Cole Moreton Bishops rebel against Church marriage policy

Two bishops have broken ranks to speak out against the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

They say that the Church’s official position does not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.

Their intervention comes as critics prepare to challenge the policy at General Synod next month, exposing faultlines within the Church…

Bishop Tim Ellis wrote this on his blog: Not in my name?

There have been many recent statements from senior bishops and others within the life of the Church of England which have raised questions in my mind as to the nature of our Church and its relationship with our country. In response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, public statements have been made which purport to give the ‘mind’ of the Church of England…

…So, I am forced to say that those of my colleagues who have spoken out on same-sex marriage do not speak for me and neither, I dare to say, do they speak for the Church of England-they are rehearsing their own opinions.

Bishop Alan Wilson was a signatory to a letter to The Times a few weeks ago, which can be read in full here.

He also wrote on his blog about this, see But mummy, he hasn’t got anything on!

And Bishop Nicholas Holtam spoke about this at a conference recently, see “Making space for an honest conversation”.



Richard Godwin of the London Evening Standard interviews the Archbishop of Canterbury in Goodbye to all that…

Mark Vernon asks in The Guardian ‘Silence is a lovely idea’ – so why have churches become so noisy?

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Dying can be a terribly lonely business. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Same-Sex Civil Marriage and the Established Religious Lobby

Iain McLean and Scot Peterson have written at Politics in Spires about Same-Sex Civil Marriage and the Established Religious Lobby: Providing the Government with Good Information?

On Tuesday 12 June, two days before the end of the consultation by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) on same-sex civil marriage, the Church of England submitted an unsigned response. The response contains a number of arguments, which we feel are deeply flawed or simply inaccurate:

  • Same-sex civil marriage violates the fundamental principle of marriage: complementarity, which arises from the difference between the sexes. If this argument does not depend upon the importance of procreation, and it cannot, then the argument is circular.
  • Legislation on civil marriage will impact religious marriage because the institution of marriage is one and the same for both. But one of the foremost Christian apologists in the Church of England has argued that they should be different, and the Church of England has fought successfully to maintain the distinction between the two.
  • The Church of England’s bishops have supported civil partnership policy in the UK. In fact, they have not.
  • European law may force churches to perform same-sex marriages if the government does so. In fact, the authority that the church relies on leads to exactly the opposite conclusion.
  • Nothing is gained by giving same-sex partners the option of a civil marriage when they already have civil partnership. This argument is wrong, because (a) important benefits obtain in marriage, which do not in civil partnerships; and (b) separate is not equal.

On Thursday 14 June, the consultation deadline, seven Oxford academics, including the authors, Professors Leslie Green (Philosophy of Law) and Diarmaid MacCulloch (History of the Church); the Rev Canon Dr Judith Maltby, Dr Adrian Kelly, and Will Jones, M.Phil., submitted a response to the church’s position, addressing each of these arguments in turn…


Worcester Diocesan Synod and the bishops' amendment

Worcester Diocesan Synod met last night and passed this emergency motion by 38 votes to 5.

This Synod calls upon the members of General Synod to support an adjournment of the debate on final approval of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, so that the House of Bishops can reconsider its recent amendment to clause 5.


Affirming Catholicism and the bishops' amendments

Affirming Catholicism issued a statement today on the House of Bishops Amendment to the Women Bishops Measure. They say that

the idea that parishes should have statutory authority to demand specific provision of oversight according to particular theological views is a dangerous precedent to be setting, both for the Church of England and for the Anglican Communion as a whole.

The clause 5 amendment raises significant questions about the credibility of the Church of England’s insistence on the historic episcopate as one of the bases for our ecumenical relationships

and conclude that the amendment to Clause 5 proposed by the Bishops “calls into question the catholic nature of the ecclesiology of the C of E”.

On procedure they strongly support the motions in the Convocations and the House of Laity to refer the amended measure to General Synod, but strongly urge Synod to refer it back to the House of Bishops.

The full statement is here.


Salisbury Diocesan Synod rejects bishops' amendment

Updated 5pm Wednesday
Thursday morning update The bishop’s presidential address is now available here.

We have been informed us that Salisbury Diocesan Synod last night overwhelmingly passed an emergency motion that “This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops to withdraw its amendment to Clause 5 of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure”.

Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, said in his Presidential Address, “the Bishops have destabilised the compromise agreed by 42 of the 44 Dioceses”. Both he and Graham Kings, the suffragan Bishop of Sherborne, voted for and welcomed the motion.

WATCH has issued a press release stating that “This emergency motion is the latest indication that the House of Bishops needs to rethink its approach to this important legislation.”

Wednesday Update

The Diocese of Salisbury has this evening issued a press release summarising the bishop’s presidential address, from which the following is extracted.

Revolutionary Talk

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, … called for an end to changes to legislation for women bishops…

Bishop Holtam said: “This is not a matter of pragmatics but of principle and what the House of Bishops has done is to destabilise a very carefully crafted proposal, which already had significant compromise within it to recognise the legitimate place of difference within the Church of England, but which had substantial agreement from the dioceses.”

Referring to a vote on whether to accept the amendments to the legislation, he added: “The motion that has been tabled tonight is in keeping with the strong support this diocese has previously given to the ordination of women bishops and I welcome it as a contribution to what is indeed a very urgent debate.” …


further media coverage of CofE response to government

Nick Cohen wrote in Sunday’s Observer abour A church fit only for bigots and hypocrites.

Douglas Carswell wrote in the Evening Standard last week that The time is now right to split Church and State.

Cole Moreton wrote in the Sunday Telegraph Will gay marriage end in divorce for church and state?


Anglican Covenant: Church of England's current status

The press release for the forthcoming General Synod group of sessions includes this statement:

One item not on the Agenda for July is the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Business Committee publishes today its report on the voting in the diocesan synods on the draft Act of Synod adopting the Covenant. 18 diocesan synods voted in favour and 26 against, so this draft Act of Synod cannot be presented to the General Synod for final approval. As the report shows, the voting was quite close. The majority of Houses of Clergy (26) voted against, but the majority of Houses of Laity (23) voted in favour. Overall, of the 1516 members of houses of clergy who voted, 732 (48%) voted in favour and 784 (52%) voted against, whereas, of the 1813 members of houses of laity who voted, 960 (53%) voted in favour and 853 (47%) voted against. The Business Committee believes that it would be helpful for members of the Synod to have time to reflect on the position before the Synod debates the report and the Diocesan Synod Motions about the Covenant that have been passed by nine diocesan synods. These will therefore be debated not in July but at the next group of sessions after July.

GS 1878 Anglican Communion Covenant: Draft Act of Synod – Report by the Business Committee on the reference to the dioceses has been published, although at this writing it is linked only here, and not over here.

Paragraph 6 may be of particular interest:.

The draft Act of Synod was approved in eighteen dioceses and not approved in twenty-six dioceses. Thus the draft Act of Synod was not approved by a majority of the dioceses and it therefore cannot be presented to the General Synod for Final Approval. For the record, there is nothing in the Synod’s Constitution or Standing Orders that would preclude the process being started over again, whether in the lifetime of this Synod or subsequently, by another draft Instrument to the same effect being brought forward for consideration by the General Synod before being referred to the dioceses under Article 8. The Business Committee is not, however, aware of a proposal to re-start the process in this way.