Updated 22 March
The Archbishop of Canterbury is undertaking a Journey in Prayer in the days leading up to his enthronement in Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March.
There are reports of each day on the Archbishop’s website, which we link below, together with any other reports that we see.
Ed Thornton reports on the pilgrimage for the Church Times: Thousands greet Welby as he prays his way to Canterbury.0 Comments
The Hansard record of yesterday’s ten minute rule debate in the House of Commons is now available: Bishops (Consecration of Women).
A recording of the debate can be watched on Parliament TV, starting at 12:37:30.
Alternatively (and more conveniently) the BBC includes video of just this debate in its report: Labour MP bids to bring in female bishops despite Church opposition.8 Comments
Updated again Friday noon
ACNS has issued this press release: Communion leaders welcome new Pope.
Lambeth Palace issued: ‘May the love of Christ unite us’: Archbishop’s statement on the election of Pope Francis.
ACNS has also issued this: “The Church universal needs Anglicans” – Pope Francis
The new Pope has reportedly said the Church universal needs Anglicans and that the Ordinariate is “quite unnecessary”.
In a note released after the election of the first ever pontiff from Latin America, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was “an inspired choice”.
“Many are asking me what is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written.
“I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary.”
Bp Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal.
“He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.
The former Primate of the Anglican Communion’s Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America added, “I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend, but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him.”
The Bishop of Guildford has issued this statement as Chairman of the Council for Christian Unity and a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission: POPE FRANCIS 1st.23 Comments
The hearings of the Public Bill Committee on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill concluded around 11 am yesterday without a single amendment of any kind being made. However, one proposed new clause, which would have the effect of allowing humanist weddings, was negatived only by virtue of the casting vote of the chair.
Dates for this have not yet been announced.
Another tranche of submissions has been published, go here for full list (scroll down).
Marriage, Sex and Culture Group, Anglican Mainstream
LGBT Anglican Coalition
Mark Jones and the Opinion of John Bowers QC (PDF)
The Church of England has today announced the appointment of Dr Jacqui Philips as Clerk to the Synod in succession to Colin Podmore.
Church announces new director of the Central Secretariat and Clerk to the Synod
11 March 2013
The Church of England today announced the appointment of Dr Jacqui Philips as Clerk to the Synod in succession to Colin Podmore, who steps down on 31st March.
Dr Philips will take up the role on 8th April and will be acting Clerk to the Synod pending the approval of her appointment in July at General Synod.
The role of Clerk to the Synod is one of the responsibilities of the Director of the Central Secretariat who, as well as managing the team that supports the General Synod, Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, also oversees the Church’s safeguarding, research and statistics work and ecumenical affairs.
Announcing the appointment, the Secretary General of the Church of England, Mr William Fittall, said: “Jacqui brings to the role a wealth of experience and a wholehearted commitment to the work of the Church of England. There was a strong field of applicants for this senior post and we are delighted that as the outstanding candidate Jacqui has accepted this role.”
Responding to the news of her appointment, Dr Philips said: “I am excited at the prospect of taking up this post and contributing to the work of the Church of England. I am looking forward to enabling and celebrating the work of the Church at a national and local level during these times of both opportunity and challenge for the Church of England.”
Jacqui Philips (41) studied English at Cambridge, did an MA in seventeenth century studies at Durham and then obtained an Oxford DPhil on the literature of John Bunyan. After a year as a parliamentary researcher, she became Public Affairs manager for the Bio Industry Association. Following spells on public policy issues for Barclays Bank and in the CBI Brussels office she became Head of Public Affairs for the Royal and Sun Alliance in 2005. She moved from there in 2008 to become Director, European Government Affairs and industry Relations at MetLife, a major US company with growing operations in Europe. In 2012, she took a short career break to explore opportunities in the not-for-profit-sector and to study for a Certificate in Theology course at St Mellitus College.
Under Standing Order 123A, the appointment will be subject to the approval of the General Synod in July.
Synod members have been sent a note (GS Misc 1043) giving more details of the recruitment process.5 Comments
Updated again Friday morning
The Diocese of Winchester on Saturday issued this announcement:
THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER has today withdrawn the commission of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Robert Key, effectively suspending him. The Dean of Jersey’s suspension follows the publication today of an Independent Report [see PDF file here], commissioned by the Diocese of Winchester’s Safeguarding Panel. This has found that there were a number of failures in the implementation of policies, in relation to a safeguarding complaint in 2008.
The report raises concerns that the Dean of Jersey did not comply with key safeguarding procedures in dealing with the complaints of a vulnerable adult parishioner, who had made a complaint about abusive behaviour by a Churchwarden in Jersey.
Following the announcement of the suspension, the Bishop will now begin an investigation into the conduct of the case by the Dean of Jersey and other matters raised by the report. The report describes a number of areas where proper practice was not followed including an apparent failure to take the complaint seriously, a perceived lack of neutrality, poor communication and lack of action.
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, who is responsible for the Church of England in the Channel Islands said, “Firstly I want to give my unreserved apologies to the complainant for her treatment. Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of the Church of England’s mission. With that comes a duty to ensure those in need are properly looked after. It is vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented.
“This Independent Report suggests that, put simply, our policies were not implemented as they should have been. I am particularly disappointed that the Dean of Jersey refused to cooperate with the review and I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation. In the wake of the report, difficult but necessary and decisive actions are required to ensure that, in the future, procedures will be followed properly.”
Andrew Robinson, Chief Executive of the Diocese of Winchester said, “The Diocese takes its safeguarding duties very seriously. This is why we commissioned the Independent Report and is why we have taken action to ensure our safeguarding polices are robust and adhered to. We are determined to learn from the mistakes made in this particular case and shall be enhancing our safeguarding procedures and policies.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has published this: Archbishop supports response to Winchester safeguarding report.
Law and Religion UK has published Review of Church’s safeguarding provisions in Jersey.
See also the
three five (so far) links to informative articles on this case by Peter Ould, earlier ones noted in the comments below.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written this further comment (item dated 11 March): Universal and specific.
From the website of the Children’s Society:
Archbishops and bishops unite with charity in child poverty call
Dozens of Church of England bishops, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, have joined The Children’s Society to call for urgent steps to prevent hundreds of thousands of children being plunged into poverty.
The welfare benefit up-rating bill – currently before parliament – will limit the amount by which most key benefits and tax credits can rise each year to only 1%, regardless of how much prices increase. This is well below the rate of inflation predicted by the Treasury, and the government estimates this will push 200,000 more children into poverty.
We have joined forces with bishops in the House of Lords to table amendments which would remove support paid for children from the bill. Peers are set to debate these amendments when the bill reaches report stage in the Lords (on 19 March)…
From the website of the Archbishop of York:
Archbishops Call For Vulnerable To Be Protected In Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill
So far 43 Bishops have signed an open letter backing The Children’s Society campaign (the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are prevented from signing open letters or backing campaigns by convention).
Archbishop of Canterbury: Archbishop joins urgent child poverty call
News reports of this:
Telegraph Edward Malnick Archbishop of Canterbury attacks Government welfare reforms (scroll down for the actual text of the letter)2 Comments
The blanket of daffodils, chocolate and cards which engulfs the nation must not obscure the fact that Laetare Sunday should not entirely be allowed to morph into ‘Mothers’ Day’ (sic). There is much more going on here than an expression of familial (or even ecclesiastical) affection.
Laetare, Mid-Lent or Refreshment Sunday is the Lenten equivalent of Advent’s Gaudete Sunday. A note of joy enters the liturgy, the purple vestments are set aside for rose, and the day marks a point of transition from one mood to another. For us this week, we are aware that Passiontide is now waiting in the wings, but, for one last time before Easter Day, we are to be joyful. And the theological and spiritual significance of this instruction shouldn’t be undersold.
It is said of a particular tradition of Christianity that it leaves its adherents unable to sleep at night for fear that someone, somewhere might be enjoying themselves. Whether that deep suspicion of the physical world derives primarily from our Neo-Platonist inheritance, from the rise of capitalism (as some have suggested), from the triumph of the opinions of (say) Theodore of Tarsus over those of Gregory the Great (look at the early mediæval penitentiaries for copious examples of the former), or wherever, there is a lurking conviction that abstinence is intrinsically holy. ‘The less the holier’ is a beguiling mantra.
The presence of Laetare Sunday in the liturgical year challenges that quasi-masochistic, dualist take on the created order. In the middle of the solemn fast of Lent, we are commanded to rejoice, even to consider breaking out the chocolate and removing the padlocks from the decanter. What, we might wonder, is going on?
A starting point is the ancient example of Anthony of Egypt. Artists have long rejoiced in painting his Temptations, perhaps because the irresistible invitation to let the imagination run riot with naked women and/or demons. Less frequently painted, though is the scene where Anthony, at the end of his period of fasting, is tempted to continue into ever-deeper asceticism. It’s probably rather difficult to paint someone being tempted not to eat — apophatic art is an interesting concept — but the point is clear: ascesis is not an end in itself, and may unwittingly become a vice as it leads us into pride, and a despising of creation and of those others who cannot meet our high ideals. Another tale of the desert fathers recalls how a solitary broke his fast in order to offer hospitality. Even within ascetic Christian monasticism rigorism and puritanism have long been suspect.
Within the Benedictine spiritual tradition there are countless reminders of our necessary embodiedness. Benedict’s Rule insists that we do not devalue our God-given physicality, even our frailness. RB 37: ‘Although human nature itself is drawn to special kindness … towards the old and children, still the authority of the Rule should also provide for them. … let a kind consideration be shown to them, and let them eat before the regular hours.’ Benedict insists on exception after exception — for the sick, for when the weather is hot, or the work arduous — and on proper provision being made for adequate food, clothing and bedding — and a ‘comfort break’ between Offices.
RB 39 expects a choice of menu to be available; the Monastery of Our Lady and St John at Alton sets aside the Wednesday fast if a feast or solemnity intervenes — ‘Beer on a feast, and wine on Sundays and solemnities.’ Our calling is to become holy, not skeletal, or pious, or puritanical. “Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are,” says Benedict in RB4, and goes on to demonstrate that holiness and proper regard for our physical state are anything but mutually exclusive.
It is in this context that Laetare Sunday may be seen to make sense. This enforced breaking of the fast is a reminder that the Sabbath (so to speak) is made for us, not us for the Sabbath (Pharisaism is such a tempting route to take, especially for the professionally religious). It ensures that we cannot enter into a mistaken imitation of Jesus’s forty-day experience in the wilderness, and thus promote ourselves to the category of spiritual Olympian, ‘seeking to be called holy before we really are’. Instead, we hear the words of the Angel to Elijah; ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’ It is one thing to discipline our physicality, another entirely to abuse it.3 Comments
Sylvia McLain writes in The Guardian that It’s a big, fat myth that all scientists are religion-hating atheists.
Vicky Beeching writes for The Independent about Christian Easter eggs and child abuse: The creation of a parallel universe by the Church.
Hans Küng writes in The New York Times about A Vatican Spring?
Tom Wright asks in The Guardian The church may be hypocritical about sex, but is no one else guilty?
The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley have this handy list of 25 Ways to say “No” Without Saying “No”.
Rosie Harper has written a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, which Alan Wilson has republished: Dear Justin…
Christopher Howse of The Telegraph writes about Anglicans in the heart of Rome.11 Comments
Diana Johnson MP will introduce a bill into the House of Commons on 13 March under the ten-minute rule to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
Wikipedia has this explanation of the Ten Minute Rule.
Parliament to debate women in the episcopate: Diana Johnson MP introduces bill next Wednesday.
On Wednesday 13th March Diana Johnson, MP for Kingston upon Hull, will introduce a bill under the ten-minute rule that would enable women to become bishops in the Church of England. In this way she will remind the Church of England that it lies within Parliament’s power to legislate for this, if the Church cannot do so quickly and in a way that is acceptable to Parliament.
After the disastrous vote last November when General Synod failed to support women bishops legislation, bishops were called to Westminster to explain to MPs how they planned to bring a speedy resolution to the problems this vote had caused. A House of Bishops Working Group has now consulted widely, and from the responses to the consultation that have been made public it appears that there is even less common ground than before between those in favour and those against women bishops. Nevertheless WATCH remains committed to the Church of England’s process of reconciliation and continuing conversations.
WATCH believes that Diana Johnson’s bill is timely in reminding the Working Group, and the House of Bishops, that legislation for women to be bishops must be passed by the Synod sooner rather than later, and in a form that allows no discrimination against women.
Before any of our readers get too excited, I should point out that the Archbishop does not allow comments on his blog.16 Comments
Previous report on this subject here.
Now, further legal action has been taken, as ENS reports: Lawsuit seeks to recognize vonRosenberg as bishop of South Carolina.
Acting to protect the identity of the diocese he serves, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg filed suit in U.S. District Court today against Bishop Mark Lawrence, asking the court to declare that only vonRosenberg, as the bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church, has the authority to act in the name of Diocese of South Carolina.
Having renounced The Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence is no longer authorized to use the diocese’s name and seal. By doing so, he is engaging in false advertising, misleading and confusing worshippers and donors in violation of federal trademark law under the Lanham Act, the complaint says. It asks the court to stop Bishop Lawrence from continuing to falsely claim that he is associated with the Diocese of South Carolina, which is a recognized sub-unit of The Episcopal Church.
The suit does not address property issues directly. But by asking the federal court to recognize Bishop vonRosenberg as the true bishop of the diocese, the suit would effectively resolve the issue of who controls diocesan property and assets, including the Diocesan House and Camp Saint Christopher on Seabrook Island. The ownership of individual parish properties is not addressed in the complaint…
The full text of the complaint can be found here (PDF).
And the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is here.
At the time of writing, this action has not been reported on the website of the “Lawrence” diocese. The latest news item there is 222nd Annual Diocesan Convention to be Held in Florence, March 8-9 and also Three More Parishes Join in Suit to Prevent TEC from Seizing Property.
The latter press release summarises the situation thus:
…47 of the Diocese’s 71 parishes and missions have voted to support the Diocese; 18 support TEC and 7 remain undecided. The parishes and missions supporting the Diocese represent 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members.
The TEC diocese website reports that the Annual Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, will be held March 8-9, 2013, at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston.
And it has this press release: Diocese added as defendant in lawsuit.
…Remaining with The Episcopal Church are 19 parishes and missions so far, along with at least 10 more “continuing parishes,” where members are maintaining official ties to The Episcopal Church even though their parish leadership has left the church. In addition, at least seven active and growing worshiping communities have organized across the diocese to allow displaced Episcopalians to continue to worship together…
Updated again Friday morning
The Public Bill Committee meets again on Tuesday and Thursday this week.
Meanwhile, a further tranche of written submissions have been published. Among these:
Supplementary evidence from Dr Augur Pearce
Hansard record of Tuesday’s hearings:
The committee has now dealt with Clauses 1 to 8. It meets again on Thursday.
Another tranche of written submissions has been published, all listed here.
SPUC (see item above about Patricia Morgan)
Hansard record of Thursday’s proceedings:15 Comments
BBC Radio 4 Monday 4 March
This morning the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is waking up to one of the biggest crises in its modern history. A few weeks ago, Cardinal Keith O’Brien was expecting to be in Rome electing the next Pope. Now he’s in disgrace, vowing that he’ll never again take part in public life .
We still don’t know the details of what he did, simply that he’s admitted to sexual misconduct amongst his fellow priests. Charges of hypocrisy have been swift to follow. This month last year, the Cardinal was on this very programme attacking gay marriage as evidence for the “degeneration of society into immorality”. Indeed, he insisted: “if the UK does go in for same sex marriage it is indeed shaming our country.”
So why is it that all the churches – and not just the Roman Catholic church – seem to attract so many gay men who are themselves so virulently hostile to homosexuality? Perhaps it has to do with a misplaced sense of shame about being gay, a sense of shame that they go on to reinforce by being vocal supporters of the very theology that they themselves have been the victims of. As the novelist Roz Kaveney tweeted yesterday: “I feel sorry for O’Brien. I hope one day he realizes that the sense of sexual sinfulness the Church forced on him was an abuse.” And that “O’Brien needs to distinguish between his sexual desires and his bad behavior and not see all of it as sin.” I totally agree.
The election of a new Pope provides an opportunity for real change. The culture of secrecy that fearfully hides this bad behavior – and not least the clerical abuse of children – needs dismantling from its very foundations. Inappropriate sexual relationships, relationships that trade on unequal power and enforced silence, are the product of an unwillingness to speak honestly, openly and compassionately about sex in general and homosexuality in particular. The importance of marriage as being available to both gay and straight people – and indeed to priests – is that it allows sexual desire to be rightly located in loving and stable relationships. I know there are people who see things differently, but I’m sorry: the churches condemnation of homosexuality has forced gay sex into the shadows, thus again reinforcing a sense of shame that, for me, is the real source of abuse.
Things may now be changing. It is encouraging that four priests have had the courage to speak out against a Cardinal – though one of them has expressed the fear that the Catholic church would “crush him” if they could. This is precisely the climate of fear that does so much to create the conditions of clerical abuse.
“It seems to me that there is nowhere to hide now,” said Diarmaid MacCulloch, the professor of the history of the church at Oxford University in a recent interview. He goes on: “We have had two Popes in succession that have denied that the church needed to change at all. The Roman church has to face realities that it has steadily avoided facing for the last thirty years.” And I might add, not just the Roman church, but my own church too.31 Comments
Updated Friday 8 March
The Cutting Edge Consortium is organising a meeting with this title at the House of Commons on Monday 11 March, sponsored by Ben Bradshaw MP.
Please note the location for this meeting has been changed to the Jubilee Room, which is directly off Westminster Hall.
The meeting starts at 6.30 pm.
Further information on this meeting is available here.
Background on CEC here.11 Comments
It is described as:
…a conference for all those in favour of women bishops
Christ Church, New Malden, Saturday 16th March 2013 10.00 am – 3.00 pm
Organised by Fulcrum and Yes2WomenBishops
Speakers – Jody Stowell, Stephen Kuhrt, Rachel Treweek
Price £15 (lunch provided)
Stephen Kuhrt writes about it for the CEN and Fulcrum: Women Bishops: Church in all its Fullness.
To sign up go here.20 Comments
There is a starkness to Lent, from the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness to his brutal death on the cross. Raw physical hardship, deprivation and pain run through the entire season. This Sunday’s Gospel reading contains two harsh passages, the first, Jesus’s blunt message of ‘repent or perish’, and the second, his parable of the barren fig tree.
When, after three years, a vineyard owner finds no fruit on his fig tree, he instructs the gardener to cut it down. The gardener pleads for the life of the tree, saying he will dig around it and spread manure on it, and if it doesn’t produce fruit by the following year then he will cut it down. Tantalisingly, we are not told what happens after the year is up. Jesus leaves the fate of the fig tree hanging in his hearers’ imaginations.
Both the passage preceding today’s reading and the one immediately following feature further stories of a strangely stern Jesus, accusing the crowds who had come to listen to him, as well as the religious authorities who were trying to find fault with him, of being hypocrites. Jesus’s words offer no comfort, no solace, only a piercing indictment of sham, hypocrisy and lack of true compassion.
The Jesus, who, when the time came, would be willing to make the awful journey to Golgotha, is also the Jesus who saw the full extent and consequence of human fear, self-righteousness and self-deception. His sternness arose, not from a condescending judgement of human waywardness, but from the depths of his compassion and it spoke into the chasm between the reality of his own intimate and trusting relationship with God and the needless barrenness of so many people’s lives around him, living without a vision of the true God and of the community of love into which they were continually being invited, if they could but see.
This chasm, this sharp and agonising dissonance between Jesus’s internal reality with his Father and the world in which he lived is most beautifully expressed in a parable Luke relates a few chapters further on. It is the story that, perhaps more than any other, expresses the mis-match between human rebelliousness and false projections onto God and the true divine nature. The parable of the prodigal son tells the story of human wilfulness and folly, and eventual repentance, but more than anything, it reveals the depth and breadth of divine longing, compassion and love.
Jesus’s earlier harsh sentence on the fig tree and his scathing accusations of hypocrisy can be seen as urgent appeals to his listeners to come to their senses, to listen to what he has been telling them and to turn from their delusions about themselves and God, and turn to the offer of loving unity and intimacy that Jesus expresses in his prayer to his Father recorded in John chapter 17, on the night he allowed himself to be arrested.
What is the main work of Lent? It will most certainly be different for each and every person who attempts anything other than the pattern and habits of the rest of the year, but is there any one thing that commends itself as a prime task or focus?
Very simply, my answer would be that there is one thing above all others that is the proper work of Lent. It is to see Jesus with new eyes and to hear his message with new ears, and seeing and hearing, to open ourselves anew to Christ’s transforming power and vision, so that the living out of our faith moves from being about Jesus to being more profoundly and intimately of and with Jesus.
If it is true that we already inhabit eternity at the same time as we live out our days on our spinning planet, then it must be the case that we can become more aware of and acquainted with the eternal Now. It is clearly a good thing to understand and accept the challenges and constraints of our earthly existence, but for Followers of the Way, that can never be enough. We are compelled by Jesus’s life and actions, and by his paradoxical teachings and his perplexing parables, to look deeper, further, to lift the corner of the deceptive curtain that separates our rational and physical existence from our sensed and half-remembered spiritual reality.
Our willingness to do this, to venture into the known-unknown will depend on our view of God. Do we shrink back in fear at Jesus’s harsh exposing of our barrenness and hypocrisy, or do we respond by acknowledging our folly, picking ourselves up out of the swill, and turning back to home?
Christina Rees2 Comments