Thinking Anglicans

proposed new diocese for West Yorkshire

We last reported on this in March when the synods of the three dioceses most affected voted on the proposals, with two in favour and one opposed.

The final vote was on Saturday when Blackburn diocesan synod voted in favour. The diocesan website has this report.

Blackburn Diocese has voted to accept the recommendations of the Dioceses Commission in relation to the proposed creation of a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The vote means that a cluster of parishes currently sitting in Bradford Diocese may now move within the borders of Blackburn Diocese. The decision is part of ongoing work to create a new combined Diocese via the dissolution of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds…

Now all the votes are complete, and as consent has not been given by one of the dioceses directly affected, the next step is for the Archbishop of York to decide whether to allow the scheme to go forward for debate at General Synod meeting (possibly in July).


more responses to the CofE marriage report

Earlier responses are here, here, here, and here. I’ve still not seen any attempt, except on Twitter, to defend the report.

Alan Wilson has added this graphic comment: Kismet.

Jonathan Clatworthy has added a further piece: Cuckoo in the nest?

From the USA, Mark Harris has written Is it time for Anglican communion by free association?

Anne Brooke has written Equal Marriage: the Work of The Devil?

Frank Cranmer agreed with me that much the funniest response remains this one.



Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, wrote about Secularisation for The Sunday Times. The article, Have faith in future of our churches, is behind the paywall, but may be read here on the SEC’s website, and downloaded as a Word document from the bishop’s blog.

Leigh Anne Williams has interviewed the soon-to-retire Bishop of New Westminster for Anglican Journal: Ingham reflects on the storms of his career.

Finally, I apologise for the slight delay in noting this article from the Church Times: Matrimonial ‘indignities’.


Another response to CofE report: Marriage and Diversity

Jonathan Clatworthy at Modern Church has written a response to the CofE report, which is titled Marriage and Diversity.

This is a response to the document Men and Women in Marriage by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, published on 10 April 2013. The accompanying press release makes clear its purpose, that ‘public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone’, so there should not be public blessings of gay partnerships.

Much of the document is a general account of the purpose of marriage, and is to be commended. As such it is timely. Over the past 60 years the Church’s earlier restrictive teaching about marriage, partnerships and sexual relationships has been rejected and then forgotten by British society at large, which now openly tolerates a wider range of relationships and often expresses moral indignation at those who disapprove of gay partnerships or single parents. However a complete free-for-all is also unsatisfactory. Most people need some guidance, and the experience of the ages does reveal that some types of relationship are more satisfactory than others. For the Church to revisit its teaching on marriage with the positive aim of offering pastoral guidance on relationships is much needed.

Sadly, Men and Women in Marriage does not perform this role. Instead it aims to rescue as much as it can from earlier restrictive teaching, offering minimal concessions to alternatives. It does this by appealing to natural law to affirm the role of marriage but then departing from natural law to define it very tightly and to treat marriage so defined as the ‘norm’ (§§48, 49)…

And Jonathan has also written in a lighter vein: We don’t want the riff-raff having marriages.

…The document tells us that ‘public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do, and this statement is offered as a resource for that’ (§4). Yet the authors know perfectly well that Christians believe and act in a wide variety of different ways, many quite contrary to what the document recommends. In other words, while claiming to tell us how Christians believe and act, it is really telling us how they think Christians ought to believe and act. It is an example of that technique we used to associate with conservative evangelicals, of claiming that anyone who disagrees with their opinions cannot be a Christian.

Perhaps the saddest thing about it is that it’s yet another example of the batten-down-the-hatches mood in the Church’s higher echelons. After a disastrous year last year – Anglican Covenant, women bishops, gay marriages – they still haven’t, apparently, learned that they can’t stop the world. If they think gay partnerships, divorce et al are all to be condemned, they should explain their reasons and allow truth to emerge from open debate – not pontificate from on high, and so erroneously, about ‘how Christians believe and act’.

One cannot help suspecting that this document is all about power relations in the hierarchy. The proposal for an Anglican Covenant began as an attempt to ‘discipline’ churches with openly gay bishops. That and the chaos over women bishops revolved around threats of schism. At times of intense disagreement, some are quick to put on their boxing gloves while others are determined to keep the peace, whatever the cost to those whose needs don’t fit the theory. We should be able to do better than this.


Church Times: ignore this marriage report

The Church Times has published the following leader comment:

On Marriage

THE kindest thing to do with the new report Men, Women and Marriage is to ignore it. It contributes nothing new to the present debate about how different forms of relationship might constitute marriage. It speaks of a unique relationship between a man and a woman without ever explaining this contention. Seldom clear, the text adopts a particular obscurity whenever a contentious matter is touched upon, such as the complementarity of the sexes. Yet it combines this with a dogmatism that is at odds with its purpose as a study document. What on earth were the Bishops thinking when they agreed to its publication?


Marriage: one man and one woman?

A member of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, has published an article at Our Kingdom under this title: Marriage: one man and one woman?

This week the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission published a statement on marriage. (PDF) It makes the case that marriage is between one man and one woman. Traditionally this has been true in England for a long time, and the Commission (made up of bishops, clergy and laity who advise the church on doctrine) was asked to offer a theological justification for the Church of England’s current position. But is this the way marriage has always been conceived? And does it have to be?


Anglican Catholic Future launches on 18 April

The launch of Anglican Catholic Future will take place at a Mass on Thursday 18th April at 7pm at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch. The celebrant will be the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, and the preacher will be Fr Peter Groves, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Oxford.

The website is here.

The launch statement reads:

Over the past two years a number of us in the Catholic tradition who love the Church of England have been meeting to pray and think about how this Catholic identity and inheritance, mission and vision, might be celebrated and strengthened. We feel it is timely to launch this initiative to meet the challenges of our time, and in doing so our aim is to complement rather than compete with existing Catholic groupings, which is why we are deliberately adopting a network model of association.

This is our working statement. We hope you will join us in this new venture of faith.

As Anglicans from across the Church of England who have been formed and nourished in the Catholic tradition, we have established a network to help to inspire and equip clergy and laity for the work of Christian mission and ministry rooted in Catholic practice, piety and theology. By returning to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith, but without recourse to political agendas and party rivalries, we seek the renewal and revitalisation of the church’s mission and apologetic proclamation.

The Catholic identity of the Church of England has suffered a crisis stemming from a preoccupation with divisive issues. As a result the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism has become fragmented and nerveless. Many who hold this tradition dear feel that the time is right to rediscover our Catholic roots and values for the sake of the church’s witness in our land.

Following the imperatives that guided our Catholic forebears in the Church of England we will focus on
* theology
* spirituality and the life of prayer
* liturgy and worship
ž* vocation and priesthood
ž* ecumenism
ž* social justice.

We will seek to model a style of discipleship faithful to the riches of our tradition, which encourages us to be creative and credible, imaginative and generous.

Generosity requires dialogue with other Christian traditions, especially those with whom we share a common heritage of spiritual understanding within the Western Church. Such dialogue will be pursued in an eirenic rather than a combative spirit.

We believe that the time has come for the implicit Catholic identity of our church to be made explicit. We look back to the Oxford Movement and the tradition on which it was built, and forward to the revitalisation of our church and nation as we recall our secularising culture to its spiritual inheritance.


Church in Wales Governing Body meets

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales is meeting today and tomorrow in Lampeter.

The agenda documents can be found here.

This press release: Ministry is for everyone, not just vicars – Archbishop of Wales was accompanied by the full text of Presidential Address by Archbishop Barry Morgan.

Media reports:

BBC Gay marriage report ordered by Church in Wales and Archbishop of Wales on same sex marriage changes

Wales Online Church in Wales to look again at gay marriage under radical changes proposed by Archbishop of Wales

Daily Post Archbishop Barry Morgan present vision for Church in Wales


initial reactions to the CofE marriage document

Updated again 9 am Friday

Bishop Alan Wilson wrote Gay Marriage: Must Try Harder. Here’s a portion, but do read it all:

The Lion has Roared. The faith and order commission of the General Synod, no less, has uttered its mind on marriage equality.

Marriage is the faithful committed permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman central to the stability and health of human society

What would happen if we simply substituted “between two people”?
Well, very little has happened, actually, in jurisdictions that have done that.

Belgium remains, after ten years, a drably conventional place, where people are married and given in marriage.

In Belgium, Gay people are not forced to marry people of the opposite sex and pretend to be what they are not. A small number of them choose a life of marital commitment together. Er, that’s it.

But apparently this is what will happen in the UK:

When marriage is spoken of unclearly or misleadingly it distorts the way couples try to conduct their relationships and makes for frustration and disappointment. The reality of marriage between one man and one woman will not disappear as a result of any legislative change, for God has given us this gift and it will remain part of our created human endowment. The disciplines of living in it may become more difficult to acquire and the path to fulfillment in marriage and in other relationships more difficult to find.

Really? How would that be? Has anyone ever met any couple to whom this happened?

Changing Attitude has three articles:
Colin Coward Church of England refuses to bless gay relationships – another nail in the coffin and
The Telegraph’s inaccurate optimism about gays in the Church
and Christina Beardsley Keeping us all in order.

Tobias Haller has written Status Quo Vadis.

Maybe the Beaker Folk have understood the report best, Ceremony of Not Blessing Things We’d Rather Not Think About.

Mark Vernon has written Where’s the good news? Here is an extract, but again do read it all:

…3. What is dismaying, then, is not that there is no overt policy change. Rather, it is the poor quality of the theology, history and psychology on display in the document. This highlights the deeper impact of a prior policy constraining a genuine process of discernment and exploration. The document reads defensively and often rather literally-minded. There is little good news in it, not fundamentally because there is no policy change, but because it conveys such a narrow vision of human love and sexuality.

4. The non-negotiable, hard place is that marriage is a ‘creation ordinance’, defined as between a man and a woman, as apparently implied in Genesis. This is either making the norm the rule or reducing the rich myths of Genesis to a formula. If it’s the former, it’s simply a category error. If it’s the latter, it’s an appallingly reductive reading of scripture that strips it of life. (In fact, the Biblical treatment often amounts to little more than proof-texting. For example, St Paul in 1 Corinthians is cited to show that men and women are ‘not independent’ of each other, which is tantamount to a truism, the proof-texting charge evidenced as if that was St Paul’s last word on the matter.)

5. The idea that Genesis sanctions the nuclear family is, actually, a modern idea: I believe it can be traced to John Locke’s 1690 Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. Then, a legal definition of marriage was required because before, committed relationships had gained their social sanction by being made before God. Also, before then, families rarely looked like Adam and Eve under the fig tree because people died too often: hodgepodge families seem far more likely to have been the norm. (The document inadvertently shows it’s modern roots by quoting the slightly earlier Jeremy Taylor. Presumably one of the committee had a dictionary of quotations to hand, as there is no sign that Taylor’s thoughts on love and friendship are reflected upon in any deep way. Further, Taylor is quoted as if in support of marriage as a paradigm of society, when the word ‘society’ did not mean a form of social organisation at the time, but merely human company.)

6. The point about modern prejudices is important because it makes the report blind to the diversity of relationships available to Christians in the medieval and ancient periods. We live in an exceptional age in which marriage has a monopoly. As writers from Alan Bray (The Friend) to Rowan Williams (Lost Icons) have argued, ours is actually the idiosyncratic period, one that has depleted our relational imaginations. (In a presumably unintentionally humorous moment, the document considers the ‘exogamy’ of the Old Testament, arguing that it was intended ‘to be of limited scope’. Lucky Abraham.)

7. The document says that the lack of a clear understanding of marriage makes for ‘disappointments and frustrations’. I doubt whether marriage guidance experts would agree. Rather, it’s an inability to tolerate difference and diversity in marriages that makes it so rigid and unbearable that it falls apart in people’s hands.

8. Discerning the goodness of God in the natural world is advocated. Now, of course, natural goodness is tricky to discern in a fallen world. The document nods to the arts and sciences in helping with that. But a paragraph or two after this moment of openness, it shrinks back to a narrow biologism that would embarrass even Richard Dawkins: our biological existence, apparently, means one man, one woman. The fact that homosexuality exists in nature is ignored. God can bless same-sex swans raising cygnets together, but not same-sex humans…

Lesley Crawley has usefully provided us with a wordle of the report in her article: How would you describe marriage? and also So has the Church of England changed its stance on Blessing Civil Partnerships?

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington have written Men and Women in Marriage and the Church of England

…The Report itself actually has very little to say about same-sex relationships (it is, after all, about marriage) other than a rather gnomic statement in paragraph 49 about

“… accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding importance of the norm. Well-designed accommodations proclaim the form of life given by God’s creative goodness and bring those in difficult positions into closer approximation to it. They mark the point where teaching and pastoral care coincide.”

The problem, it strikes us, is this: that the Church appears to be trying to have it all ways at once. Either you decide on biblical grounds that same-sex relationships are wrong in all circumstances and stick to that (which is an entirely consistent position even if it is one that looks increasingly at odds with the views of wider society) or you decide that they are not – in which case when you try to accommodate them you run the risk of getting tangled up in conflicting arguments in the way that is currently engulfing the C of E. But seeming to suggest that same-sex relationships are not always wrong and then maintaining that, nevertheless, they are basically second-class strikes us as the worst of all worlds – and much the most difficult position to defend, whether intellectually or pastorally.

Two more articles by Colin Coward Reactions to “Men and Women in Marriage” and Critiques of “Men and Women in Marriage”.


press reports on new CofE marriage document

Updated again Friday morning

Confusing headlines in this morning’s newspapers:

Telegraph John Bingham Church of England gives blessing to recognising civil partnerships

A report from the Church’s doctrine watchdog urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples” and to be “flexible”.
It said the aim was to enable them to enjoy a “closer approximation” to marriage.
The senior bishop who drafted the missive to priests insisted that it did not amount to a policy u-turn and that an official ban on formal “blessings” for civil partnerships remained in place.
But he said it was clear there was a need for committed same-sex couples to be given recognition and “compassionate attention” from the Church, including special prayers.
Liberal priests, who already conduct unofficial dedication and thanksgiving for gay couples who are not allowed to marry, said it amounted to the first official endorsement for what they do…

Guardian Sam Jones Church of England rejects blessings for same-sex couples

The Church of England has ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples, insisting that such public gestures belong only to heterosexual marriage.
The announcement – made in a report from the church’s faith and order commission entitled Men and Women in Marriage – comes weeks after the outgoing bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, suggested the church consider blessing gay couples as it should “bless true love wherever such love is found”.
The report stresses the church’s immutable definition of marriage as “a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society”, but recognises the existence of same-sex relationships, which it terms “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us”.
The bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the commission, repeated the church’s commitment to providing “care, prayer and compassion” to those who cannot be married in church, but drew the line at blessings for gay couples. “Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone,” he said…

Express Church of England gay prayers plea

Pink News Blessings for same-sex couples rejected by Church of England

The headline in The Times last night read Bishops stop short of giving blessing to civil partnerships but a subscription is needed to read the full article. Headline now changed to: Bishops devise way of ‘accommodating’ same-sex couples.

A new report on marriage has caused dismay among parts of the Church of England because of its failure to offer official blessings to civil partnerships.
The report, commissioned by the House of Bishops, stops short of endorsing formal public blessings and instead offers priests vague instructions to “devise accommodations” for same-sex couples in their parishes.
These would include “prayer, care and compassionate attention” but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, the Bishop of Coventry the document’s co-author, said…

Huffington Post Gay Couples ‘Should Be Accommodated’ By Church Of England Priests, Bishop Says

Church of England priests have been told to provide “accommodations” for gay couples in a new report.
This will include “prayer” and “compassionate attention” but not “formal public blessings” in the report, written by the Bishop of Coventry and entitled “men and women in marriage”.
It is understood that these prayers could take place inside parish churches.
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry said the church remained against same-sex marriage but wished to set “disagreements against a more positive background of how Christians have understood and valued marriage.”
Setting out guidelines, Rev Cocksworth writes: “The form of prayer will depend upon the particular circumstances of the particular case.
“But we are talking about that sort of pastoral care if you like, and prayer, rather than something which is more formal and more public. This is part of the private, the personal, compassionate attention that a priest would give to people. It is not about public, formal recognition.”
The bishop said it is up to parish priests “to make informed, sensible, loving and careful judgments”.
But “what the church doesn’t offer the parish priest is a service of blessing or public recognition”…

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church of England may allow ‘responsible’ gay couples to have their relationships blessed by a priest

The Church of England yesterday signalled that gay couples should be able to have their relationships blessed in church.
It said priests may ‘devise accommodations’ for same-sex couples ‘who seek to engage with the challenges of life responsibly’.
It suggests that public prayers which recognise gay relationships could be introduced in church services by sympathetic clergy.
Yesterday’s paper, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby and the leading bishops, does not change the CofE laws which say homosexual activity is sinful and ban priests from blessing gay relationships.
But it appeared to encourage same-sex couples, saying the Church must show a ‘degree of flexibility’ over gay relationships, and adding: ‘the Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional conditions as simply closed.’
The proposal will infuriate traditionalists and is likely to reignite the bitter conflict within the Church over same-sex relationships.
The document likened the case of same-sex relationships to the controversy a decade ago over the remarriage of divorcees.
This ended with divorcees officially allowed to have second weddings in church, if they can find a sympathetic priest, even though CofE doctrines say marriage is for life…

Church Times Madeleine Davies Marriage: a ‘gift from God’ that does not include same-sex couples, says report

AN uncompromising document released this week reinforces the ban on public forms of blessing for those in same-sex relationships. And it states that, although the introduction of same-sex marriage will not make heterosexual marriage “disappear”, it may make “the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find”.

…The report does not affirm those in “human relationships which fall short of marriage relationships”, in contrast to the response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, published last year, which stated that “same-sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity” ( News, 15 June). Its language is more guarded, stating that: “in pastoral responses, a degree of flexibility may be called for in finding ways to express the Church’s teaching practically. . . The Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional circumstances as simply closed.”

..The Church, the new report suggests, can “devise accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding norm”. On Tuesday, Dr Cocksworth said: “The Church is here for all people, and those who find themselves in same-sex relationships and have committed to those, the Church treats those people with respect, with compassionate attention, with care and with prayer. The exact form of that prayer will depend on the case itself, the situation that is before the pastor.”

The document itself does not restate the ban on blessing same-sex relationships, but Dr Cocksworth said that the “well-designed accommodations” it mentions were “different from formal public blessings”. The press release accompanying the report states: “The document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone…”

A further version of this report is in this week’s Church Times with the headline Marriage is a gift, ‘but not if you’re gay’.

BBC Same-sex marriage: Church of England denies blessings

Independent Outgoing Bishop of Liverpool wants ban lifted on same-sex partnership blessings and the ITV report on which this is based is here: Church of England conducting blessings for gay couples.


CofE publishes “Men and Women in Marriage”

Updated to include Notes

Church of England press release

“Men and Women in Marriage” – new document from Faith and Order Commission

The Church of England’s view of the long-established meaning of marriage has been outlined in a new report – “Men and Women in Marriage” – published this week by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission.

The publication (attached) includes a foreword from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which commends the document for study. The report sets out the continued importance and rationale for the Church’s understanding of marriage as reflected in the 1,000 marriage services conducted by the Church of England every week.

The document also seeks to provide “a more positive background on how Christians have understood and valued marriage” arguing that marriage “continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”.

The report takes as its starting point the Church’s basic premise that “marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and means of His grace”. The document also seeks to enlarge the understanding of marriage defined as “a faithful, com mitted, permanent and legally sanctioned relations hip between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society.”

Recognising the ongoing debate around marriage in society the report acknowledges that marriage “like most important undertakings in life, can be lived more successfully or less successfully. Mistakes are made, by couples, by their friends and relatives, and sometime by pastors and institutions of the church… Lack of clear understanding of marriage can only multiply disappointments and frustrations. Public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do and this document is offered as a resource for that.”

The Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Commission said: “The Church has a long track record in conducting and supporting marriage, drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage. There is a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society.

“This report seeks to celebrate all that is good about marriage in its ability to bring together biological difference and the generative power of marriage to bring forth life. It also recognises that there are forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form the God has given us.

“This report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer and compassion for those who for whatever reason are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold. Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone.”

A PDF copy of the report which is numbered as GS Misc 1046 is available here.



General Synod – Reports of Proceedings

We overlooked the verbatim Report of Proceedings of last November’s General Synod when it was published, but it is available for download: Report of Proceedings November 2012.

Reports back to February 2007 are available from this page and in most cases audio files are also available.


WATCH meeting: Preparing for Elections

WATCH (London) Invitation

Preparing for Elections

Everyone is welcome to St James’s Church Piccadilly (nearest underground Piccadilly Station, Piccadilly Line or Green Park Station, Victoria and Jubilee Lines) on Wednesday 17 April 2013 from 6.45pm – 9.15pm

This event will provide an opportunity for us to prepare for the forthcoming elections to Deanery Synods now and in 2014 at which members vote for those standing for General Synod.

It is crucial we are prepared for this as soon as possible so that the expressed wishes of those in the Church who support Women Bishops can be properly represented.

Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly will give a key-note address.

The Revd Stephen France, Rector of Christ Church Brondesbury in the London Diocese will take us step by step through the synodical processes to secure a General Synod lay membership which represents far more accurately than the present House of Laity the overwhelming desire of church people to welcome women as bishops.

Pamphlets giving clear guidance will be provided at the meeting for distribution in your parishes. Individuals who have been closely involved in Synod’s various efforts to achieve women in the episcopate, members of General Synod past and present and from the National WATCH committee will be on hand to hear your views and experiences.

There will be time for questions and comments. We will end with Compline.

Light refreshments will be available.



Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian How do churches get new bums on seats? Get rid of the boring old ones.

Ysenda Maxtone Graham writes in The Spectator Brace yourself for the real experience of going to a rural parish service on Easter Sunday.

Sarah Coakley gave a series of ten Meditations on Holy Week at Salisbury Cathedral.

Diarmaid MacCulloch in The Guardian asks Who is the antichrist? Not Obama. Not even Satan, exactly.

This week’s Church Times has two comment articles available to non-subscribers
Paul Valleley The complex web of global hunger
Jonathan Bartley Now is the time to be subversive
and this leader Blaming the poor.


Desmond Tutu awarded Templeton Prize

The Church Times reports: Tutu wins £1.1m Templeton Prize.

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu was awarded the Templeton Prize on Thursday for “advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness”.

The award, which is now worth £1.1 million, was established 40 years ago by the late global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, to reward a person “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”.

Dr Tutu will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on 21 May. A celebration will be held next Thursday at St George’s Cathedral, Capetown…

The full text of the press release from the Templeton Foundation is currently here. Other background information is also available.


News items from around the Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion Office has published three reports of the business recently transacted by the Standing Committee, which met in late March. In case you’ve forgotten, the committee’s structure is explained here.

The reports of the 2013 meeting:

There have been several reports of the recent election of a primate for the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

First there was this announcement: New Archbishop elected by Anglican Church of Tanzania.

Then there was a follow-up item Tanzania bishops welcome Archbishop-elect Jacob Chimeledya.

And most recently there was this: Tanzania’s General Secretary clarifies Archbishop election.

…The Special Electoral synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania met on 21st February 2013 in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Dodoma to elect the sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Since then some unfounded accusations of corruption, bribery and tribalism surrounding the election of our new Archbishop have been made on the internet.
The internet can be used to develop relationships, but it can also be used to spread gossip and destabilize the church. None of those writing these false stories sought to confirm them with us. It is very sad that someone who did not attend the election would spoil what was confirmed by all our bishops as a fair and transparent election…

To understand what this refers to, see other earlier reports: here, here, and here. And then also here, and here.

And there is news from Uruguay via Anglican Journal: Pollesel election in Uruguay ratified.

The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has reconsidered the diocese of Uruguay’s appeal and has voted to ratify the election of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel as co-adjutor bishop.

The decision came 10 months after the province’s house of bishops rejected Pollesel’s election. The Uruguayan diocesan synod had appealed the decision, but “for technical canonical reasons the form of the original appeal was not valid” and had to be presented again, said Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Hector Zavala in a press release.

The Southern Cone house of bishops and provincial executive council, “with joy and thankfulness to God,” ratified Pollesel’s election after new consideration of the appeal and the presentation of new background material, Zavala said…

Again, in case you had forgotten, here is the Anglican Journal earlier report on his rejection, and our own much earlier report about that diocese’s discomfort with the Southern Cone province.

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Archbishop joins call on G8 to 'strike at causes of poverty'

Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times: No excuses on poverty goals, religious leaders warn G8.

EIGHTY religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have signed a letter warning the G8 group of world leaders not to use the financial crisis as an “excuse” to delay fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The letter was published in the Financial Times on Friday, 1000 days ahead of the deadline to meet the MDGs. The G8 leaders are scheduled to meet in the UK in June…

The full text of the letter can be read on the Lambeth Palace website (scroll down) and the full list of signatories is below the letter.

Financial crisis is not an excuse for missing Millennium Development Goals, say religious leaders. Supporters encouraged to add their voices on Twitter using#1000DaysToGo

With 1000 days left to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has joined religious leaders across the G8 urging governments to keep their promises on foreign aid.

Archbishop Justin is among 80 religious leaders who have signed a letter to the Financial Times today, urging G8 countries to follow the UK in meeting existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries…


Women Bishops in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013. The agenda includes group discussion on women bishops, as this extract from a press release describes.

The ordination of women as bishops will be discussed by clergy and lay people from all over Wales at a key Church meeting next week.

Theological arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, on April 10-11.

The 144 members will be put into seven groups, each facilitated by a bishop, to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against.

The discussions are being held ahead of the introduction of a two-stage Bill to the Governing Body in September to ordain women as bishops. That legislation, however, will not be addressed by the groups next week.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, says, “It is now five years since the last time that Governing Body considered the question of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and many of its members will have changed. The bishops feel it is important that Governing Body has the opportunity to explore the theological questions behind these issues, and understand the conscientious reasons why those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate would not be able to accept the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop as well as the theological reasons why those in favour believe that the time is right for such as a step.”

The discussions will take place on Thursday morning from 9.30am.

The full agenda is available online.

The Governing Body previously considered a bill to allow women to be bishops in April 2008. It was defeated then as it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.


Women Bishops round-up

Here are some recent items about women bishops and women’s ministry.

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has published a spring newsletter. The major item in this is The central principle of justice and liberation for all women, the address given at the GRAS Conference and AGM held on 2 March 2013 by the Revd Canon Jane Charman.

Today’s Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 was about Women and the Christian faith.

Jane Garvey looks at the position of women in the Christian faith. Jane visits the Coventry parish of the Reverend Katrina Scott. Also taking part are the Rev’d Lorna Hood, Moderator Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and also on the Woman’s Hour Powerlist; the Rev’d Anne Stevens, Vicar of St Pancras Parish Church, London, and part of the current consultation on women bishops and a member of WATCH (Women And The Church) which is campaigning for women bishops; Sister Catherine Wybourne, a Roman Catholic nun who runs a contemplative community in Herefordshire and Tweets under the name DigitalNun.

The programme can be listened to for the next seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

Damian Thompson reports in The Telegraph that Russian Orthodox tell Archbishop of Canterbury: ordain women bishops and you can forget about unity.

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about a new book, Women and Men in Scripture edited by Stephen Croft and Paula Gooder: Support for women bishops ‘is biblical’.


YouGov poll on Religion for the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times commissioned a poll to provide it with a news story for Easter about the Church of England. This newspaper is behind a pay wall, but Reuters has this report: UK poll points to mistrust of clergy, lack of moral leadership.

Only around a half of Britons trust the clergy to tell the truth and a similar proportion think the Church of England does a bad job of providing moral leadership, a poll showed on Sunday.

The survey by pollster YouGov commissioned by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper further showed that 69 percent of respondents thought the Church of England, mother church of the world’s 80-million-strong Anglican communion, was out of touch.

Forty percent of those polled said they did not trust priests, vicars and other clergy to tell the truth, and overall doctors, teachers and judges were rated as more trustworthy.

Fifty-four percent believe the Church of England has struggled to give moral leadership, the poll found…

Clive Field at British Religion in Numbers has reported at length on the survey, see Easter Day with the Sunday Times. Here’s a small extract, but do read the whole analysis.

Trust in clergy

54% have a great deal or fair amount of trust in priests, vicars, and other clergy to tell the truth, rising to 73% among Christians, with 40% having little or no trust in them. Clergy are the sixth equal most trusted profession on a list of eighteen occupations, the range being from 83% for family doctors to 13% for estate agents.

Church of England

31% contend that the Church of England is doing a good job in providing moral leadership, over-60s (38%) and Christians (55%) being especially inclined to think so (54% for Anglicans). A majority (54%, including 65% of Liberal Democrats, who are committed to disestablishment, and 37% of Anglicans) rates it as doing a bad job, with 16% unsure.

Still more, 69%, feel that the Church of England is out of touch, with particular highs for UKIP voters (75%) and Scots (76%). Even 53% of Christians take this line. Just 21% of all adults view the Church as being in touch, and no more than 28% of over-60s and 41% of Anglicans. 10% express no opinion on the subject.

A plurality (49%) say the Church of England is wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, including 66% of 18-24s, 63% of Liberal Democrats, 60% of Scots, and even 37% of Anglicans. 37% support the Church’s position, with 57% for the over-60s and 52% of Anglicans. 13% are undecided.

78% feel that the Church of England should allow women bishops, including 89% of Liberal Democrats, 85% of Anglicans, 83% of Conservatives, 82% of women and Scots. Opponents of women bishops number 9% overall but 19% of Catholics, 15% of UKIP supporters, and 13% of Londoners. 13% do not know what to think…

YouGov has published the full results of the poll on its own website, and they can be downloaded as a PDF from here.