Thinking Anglicans

House of Lords: Wednesday in committee on the Marriage bill


The Hansard record starts here, and later continues here. The debate continued until 12.30 am!

The more detailed list showing speakers names is over here.

The Bishop of Guildford engaged in the debate. His interventions start here. And continue, late in the evening, here.

David Pocklington has again written up the day, in Same Sex Marriage Bill – Committee, 2nd Day.

Gavin Drake reports on Monday’s debate, and related events earlier in the week, in the Church Times Bishop seeks registrar opt-out.

The committee stage completes next Monday. And there is one more amendment filed.
A Third Marshalled List of Amendments is now here.

Two dates for the Report stage have been announced: 8 and 10 July.


House of Bishops – senior women clergy representatives

I reported here on the rules that had been made for the election of senior women representatives to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The rules contained a few errors

  • Chelmsford was accidentally included in two regional electoral colleges
  • The first regional electors did not come into office until after the first elections

and these have now been corrected.

The amended rules (dated 14 June 2013) can be downloaded from here. I have amended my webpage version to show both the original text, and the amendments made to it.

The date by which the first elections must be completed remains 1 October 2013, so the first representatives will be able to attend the next regular meeting of the House of Bishops, which is in December.


House of Lords: Monday in committee on the Marriage bill

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Hansard record starts here, and later continues here.

The more detailed list showing speakers names is over here.

Two bishops engaged in the debate, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Hereford.

The archbishop’s two interventions start here.
The bishop’s three interventions start here.

The debate continues on Wednesday. There is already a Second Marshalled List of Amendments here. There is now a Revised Second Marshalled List.


David Pocklington has listed out what happened yesterday to each amendment that was discussed, see Same Sex Marriage Bill – Committee Stage, 1st Day.

Andrew Brown has written John Sentamu and the Church of England’s slow retreat on gay marriage.

…The archbishop, John Sentamu, asked: “What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment.”

No. It isn’t. That moment passed years ago, when civil partnerships were first brought in, and the archbishop’s was one of the loudest voices demanding that the Church of England have nothing to do with them. The bishops still don’t realise what damage they did then…

Paul Johnson has written at ECHR Sexual Orientation blog Same-sex marriage in England and Wales – more references to the ECHR.

David Pocklington has written again, Clarifications from withdrawn amendments, Same Sex Marriage Bill, Day 1 which adds a lot of useful explanation about the various amendments discussed.

Chris Sugden has written an Update for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.


Joint Committee on Human Rights reports on Marriage bill

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

The full text can be found here, as a PDF file.

The uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the committee is available here as a PDF file.

The Telegraph has a news article based on what is said in this report, here.

1 Comment

Marriage Bill: Committee stage starts today in the Lords

Updated Monday evening

There is a revised Marshalled List of amendments.

David Pocklington has written another very helpful article at Law & Religion UK entitled Same-Sex Marriage Bill – further legal issues. He comments:

… With the exception of the amendments relating to holding a referendum on the Act, (which would take place after the Act had gained Royal Assent, but before its other provisions come into force), the majority concern the clarification of issues specific to groups who are likely to be impacted by its provisions: followers of Judaism, [clause 5, amendment 21]; or Sikhism [clause 5, amendment 22]; or by challenges to their actions in relation to these and various equality provisions; publicly held appointments, [clause, amendment 5]; registrars, [clause 2, amendment 15 to 18]; teaching, [clause 7, amendment 23].

A number of amendments refer to “exercising a function that is a function of a public nature for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998”, one of the “grey areas” of particular interest to the Church of England which was discussed at length in the ‘Prayer to Annul’ debate on 15 December 2011 and is reported here. Other proposals seek to identify and protect the concept of “traditional marriage”, [clause 1, amendment 7], or “matrimonial marriage”, [clause 12, amendment 46].

In addition, potential new provisions include requirements for the Secretary of State to: create a statutory list of religious bodies owning or controlling premises that they do not wish to be eligible to undertake an opt-in activity, [clause 1, amendment 6]; and review the operation and effects of the Act to be reviewed, two years and five years after it is passed, [clause 15, amendment 47]…

The earlier article linked in the above extract, Same-Sex Marriage Bill – some legal issues, was included in our previous roundup.

Other comments, from different perspectives, can be found here (Colin Coward) and over here (Peter Ould).


The Archbishop of York spoke in this debate, and has published his text here.
There is a news report in the Telegraph Archbishop of York: would the church rather bless sheep and trees than gay couples?


Civil partnerships review – terms of reference and timetable

The Government Equalities Office has published a policy paper which sets out the terms of reference and timetable for a review of the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA) in England and Wales.

See this announcement dated 13 June: Future of Civil Partnerships review to start in autumn 2013

Terms of Reference published for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004

The Government has today announced its intention to launch a full public consultation in the autumn to kick start a review of the future of Civil Partnerships in England and Wales.

During a debate in the House of Commons of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, concerns were raised by MPs over the issue of civil partnerships and their role in light of same sex marriage legislation.

To ensure these issues are fully understood the Government tabled an amendment to the Bill which would allow for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Read the Terms of Reference for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act. [Full text copied below the fold]



Welsh disestablishment

Although the Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920, disestablishment was not complete (for example in the area of marriage law). The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for Wales has been inquiring into Law-making and the Church in Wales and their report was published yesterday. It recommends “that the Church in Wales should be fully disestablished”.

There are links to the report of the inquiry and to the evidence given to it by Professor Norman Doe, Professor Thomas Glyn Watkin, and the Archbishop of Wales here.

Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK explains it all in Disestablishing the Church in Wales – at last?

The Church in Wales has responded with this: Church responds to National Assembly law report.

Press reports inlcude

BBC Calls to cut Church in Wales’ ties with Parliament
Wales Online The Church in Wales should be granted fully disestablished status to solve ‘legislative limbo’, says Assembly committee



George Pitcher writes in the New Statesman that For the new Power Christians, God is the new CEO.

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in The New York Times that Same-Sex Marriage Leaves the Bishops Behind.

William Oddie writes in the Catholic Herald that On Friday, the Pope will meet Archbishop Welby. So, why do we continue talking to the Anglicans after they have so wilfully made unity impossible?

The OUP blog speaks (in six YouTube videos) to Brian Cummings about The origin and text of The Book of Common Prayer.

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks Was there an original Revelation?

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian about From the Golden Calf to Gezi park: religious imagery and modern protest

Theo Hobson writes the second of his two articles on liberal Christianity for The Guardian: What would a new liberal Christianity look like?. The first is here.


Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 (revised)

TA readers may recall that back in June 2011, a document was published by the Church of England, which was numbered GS Misc 992 entitled Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010. We reproduced the full text of this document here at the time and it attracted some comment then.

In fact the identical document had been leaked to the Guardian newspaper the previous month when it attracted quite a lot of media comment.

Today, the Church of England released a new document, numbered GS Misc 1044, which is described as an update to the earlier one, but whose content is in some respects quite different. The cover note observes that the update has been made to take account of the decision taken by the House of Bishops in December in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate.

We reported on that in House of Bishops decisions taken in December, and then again here, and finally, when in January the Church of England eventually issued a press release, in Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE.

The new document is now reproduced in full here.

The old document is still available here, and readers may find it instructive to look at the two side by side.

PDF originals are here (old), and then here (new).

John Bingham has written today in the Telegraph about this document, see Archbishops to ask clergy: ‘Are you having gay sex?’

Update Friday 21 June
Today, Gavin Drake reports on this for the Church Times in Assurances of celibacy may not be enough to qualify for a bishopric.


Archbishop meets Pope in Rome

Updated Friday evening and Sunday lunchtime

Now that today’s meeting has taken place, the archbishop’s website reports that Archbishop Justin meets Pope Francis in Rome.

In their first meeting, Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis both spoke this morning of the bonds of “friendship” and “love” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.

The Archbishop and the Pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.

Archbishop Justin said that Christians must reflect “the self-giving love of Christ” by offering love and hospitality to the poor, and “love above all those tossed aside” by present crises around the world.

The Pope said those with the least in society “must not be abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers”.

They also agreed on the need for Christians to act as peacemakers around the world, which they acknowledged could only be done if Christians “live and and work together in harmony,” the Pope said…

The article includes the texts of the addresses that the two men gave in public after their private conversation.

Ed Thornton of the Church Times writes that Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis speak up for the poor at first meeting

The Telegraph reports that Pope Francis tells Archbishop of Canterbury to stand firm on traditional family values.

Martha Linden writes for The Independent that Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Rome.

BBC News has Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope meet for first time.

The Washington Press carries this piece from Associated Press Pope meets Archbishop of Canterbury, seeks to promote marriage as UK heads to gay marriage.

Catherine Hornby of Reuters writes Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences. The Huffington Post carries the same article under the headline Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury Meet, Note Differences On Women Ordination, Gay Rights and adds a gallery of photographs.

Lizzie Davies of The Guardian, who is in Rome, writes that Pope and archbishop of Canterbury find common ground at talks in Rome.
Gerard O’Connell of Vatican Insider writes that Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury have very friendly and successful first meeting.


Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod

Updated Friday afternoon twice

The usual pre-synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today, and is copied below. It provides a summary of the business to be transacted.

I have listed the available online papers here.

Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod

The General Synod meets in York on 5th – 9th July for the first time since the rejection of the draft legislation on Women Bishops last November. A large period of time on the Saturday will be devoted to work on this issue with a debate on the Monday. The Friday afternoon will see the first Presidential Address by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, which will be an opportunity for him to outline the main challenges facing the Church of England over the coming period.

The meeting of Synod will also include debates on Safeguarding following the Chichester Commissaries’ reports and Welfare Reform and the Church. There will also be a vote on the Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme.

The agenda provides for the Synod to meet in private on the morning and afternoon of Saturday 6 July for reflection and facilitated discussion on the issue of Women Bishops. Some of this time will be spent in groups and some in plenary. The group work will take the form of 24 groups of 20 people with a trained facilitator, with Synod members from each House in the groups. On Monday morning there will be a debate on a motion from the House of Bishops which proposes that draft legislation be prepared and introduced at the November group of sessions on the basis of option one in the report from the working group. Synod members will have until 10am on Sunday to table amendments to the Motion.

On Sunday afternoon at 5pm there will be a debate on a Motion on Safeguarding as a follow-up to the reports of the Commissaries appointed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct a visitation into safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester. This will take the form of motion endorsing an apology by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for past errors within the Church of England and agreeing plans to take further legislative and non-legislative steps to improve the Church’s policies and practices on safeguarding. These include planned changes to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) which will be consulted on over the summer and brought to the Synod in draft legislation in February 2014. In addition there are plans to carry out an audit of diocesan safeguarding resources and practices, and to do more work at national level on developing and implementing safeguarding policies and supporting dioceses with training and roll-out of these polices.

On Sunday evening there will be a debate on Welfare Reform and the Church. This will be an opportunity for Synod members to discuss how the Church is and should be responding to the changes to the welfare system being introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions and in particular how the impact on low income households is being felt at parish level.

Saturday evening will see a debate on Challenges for the Quinquennium. It is exactly half-way through the Synod’s current five-year term (Quinquennium) and this will be an opportunity for the Synod to take stock of how the goals set at the beginning of this period are being met and any further areas of work required. The main themes are:

Contributing as the national Church to the common good
Facilitating the growth of the Church
Re-imagining the Church’s ministry

The debate will be an opportunity for Synod members to add their own views on how the Church is responding to these overall themes and to prepare the way for more focused debates on each of them in future.

Legislative business will be taken on Saturday afternoon, Monday morning and afternoon and Tuesday morning. A key item, for the Monday afternoon, will be the proposed Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme which aims to bring together the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield and create a new Diocese of Leeds (also to be known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales). The Archbishop of York has authorised the Diocese Commission to lay the draft Scheme before the General Synod, even though the Diocese of Wakefield has not given its consent to the scheme.

Other items of legislative business arise from the work of the Elections Review Group, a sub-group of the Business Committee, relating to how members of the General Synod are elected. The Synod will also be debating a second report from the Elections Review Group on possible changes to the electorate of the House of Laity and the options for using online voting in future.

Contingency business takes the form of a Diocesan Synod Motion (DSM) from the Diocese of London on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod. This calls for the Business Committee to look at a number of areas including the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and whether the current synodical framework and structures are still fit for purpose. This DSM will be taken if there are any gaps in the Synod agenda.



The General Synod will meet at York University from 4.15 on Friday 5 July until lunchtime on Tuesday 9 July.

Read the full Agenda.

Madeleine Davies reports on this morning’s press briefing in the Church Times: Synod: ‘There will be arguments’ despite group talks.
Sam Jones writes for The Guardian: Church of England synod told not to delay over women bishops


General synod – July 2013 – online papers

Updated Friday 21 June

Online copies of the papers for the July 2013 meeting of General Synod are now available online; they are listed below, with links and a note of the day they are scheduled for debate.

In addition three zip files of the papers are available.

all papers contained in the 1st circulation
all papers contained in the 2nd circulation
papers from both the 1st and 2nd circulation

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1889) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.

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

Papers for debate

GS 1866A – Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure
GS 1877A – Draft Amending Canon No.31
GS 1866Y-1877Y – Report by the Revision Committee [Sunday]

GS 1886 – Women in the Episcopate [Monday]

GS 1887 – Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013
GS 1887x – Explanatory Memorandum [Sunday]

GS 1888 – Full Synod Agenda

GS 1889 – Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1890 – Appointment of the Clerk to the Synod [Friday]
GS 1891 – Appointment of the Chair of the Appointments Committee [Friday]
GS 1892 – Appointment of the Chair of the Finance Committee [Friday]
GS 1893 – Appointment of the Chair of the England Pensions Board [Friday]
GS 1894 – Appointment of the Auditors to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1895 – Progress on meeting challenges for the Quinquennium [Saturday]

GS 1896 – Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports [Sunday]

GS 1897 – Welfare Reform and the Church plus Annex 1 and Annex 2 [Sunday]

GS 1898 – Draft Scheme for Approval [The Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme] [Monday]
GS 1898x – Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1899 – Draft Resolution for Approval [Transitional Vacancy in See Committee for the Diocese of Leeds] [Monday]

GS 1900 – The Archbishops’ Council’s Draft Budget and Proposals for apportionment for 2014 [Monday]

GS 1901 – The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1902 – Draft Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]
GS 1903 – Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1904 – Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1905 – Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1902-05x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1906 – The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1907 – Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2013
GS 1908 – Clergy Discipline Appeal (Ammendment) Rules 2013
GS1907-08x – Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1909 – Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
GS 1909x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1912 – Scheme Amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995
GS 1912x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1913 – Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Monday]

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Monday]

Contingency Business

Diocesan Synod Motion: Review of the Workings of the General Synod
GS 1914A – A note from the Diocese of London
GS 1914B – A note from the Acting Clerk to the Synod

Other Papers

GS Misc 1044 – Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act

GS Misc 1048 – Simplification Group Report

GS Misc 1049A – Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B – The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C – Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates
GS Misc 1050 – Statement from the Archbishop of York
Annex 1 – Blackburn Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 2 – Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 3 – Draft Wakefield Diocean Synod notes
Annex 4 – Bradford Diocesan Synod notes

GS Misc 1051 – Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CD Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1052 – Clergy Discipline Amendment Rules as amended by CDA Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1053 – Code of Practice amended July 2013

GS Misc 1054 – Making New Disciples
GS Misc 1055 – Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2012
GS Misc 1056 – Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1057 – Mission Development Funding plus Annex 1 and Annex 2
GS Misc 1058 – Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1059 – Members of Committees

The Church and Community Fund Annual Review

House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper
3rd Notice Paper



Marriage Bill: House of Lords moves to committee stage

Updated Friday morning

Three days have now been allocated for the committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Monday 17th, Wednesday 19th, and Monday 24th June.

So far, three pages of amendments have been tabled, all can be reached via this page.

Update a Marshalled List is now available here. Several amendments include bishops as sponsors.

David Pocklington at Law & Religion UK has an informative post: Same-Sex Marriage Bill – some legal issues.

Conservative Christian opposition to the bill continues, see The House of Lords, Church of England Bishops and the Same-Sex Couples bill by Chris Sugden at Anglican Mainstream.

The statement by the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual was reported here.

The Church of England Briefing Note issued for the Second Reading of the bill can be found here. It indicates the type of amendments that may be pursued by the bishops.


Pope and Archbishop to meet

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be meeting Pope Francis for the first time tomorrow.

The Guardian has two articles looking forward to this visit.
Sam Jones Justin Welby and Pope Francis meet in hope of finding common ground
Andrew Brown Shift in style as outsiders Justin Welby and Pope Francis get together

The Tablet reports that Welby and Pope meet to review relations between Churches.

Alessandro Speciale of Religion News Service writes Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury to meet for the first time.


New website for Anglican Communion News Service

From the new website

New website for Anglican Communion News Service
Posted on: June 13, 2013 1:53 PM

By ACNS staff

The news service of the Anglican Communion has today launched its first ever purpose-built news website

The site comes almost 20 years after the electronic news service was first launched. Since then subscribers around the world have received thousands of news articles via email.

“This site brings the Anglican Communion’s ability to share its stories of life and mission to a whole new level,” said Jan Butter who is the Director for Communication at the Anglican Communion Office.

“Until now we’ve been restricted to sending news stories to people’s email inboxes. Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world can visit the new site for, not just news, but also comment, feature stories, podcasts, videos and photos. We hope that the diverse content helps to reflect the richness and variety found across our Anglican Communion.”

Mr Butter added, “Existing subscribers will still receive email alerts, but just one a day summarising the newest content on the site.”

In a comment piece written exclusively for the new website, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby highlighted the importance of effective, grace-filled communication between Anglicans, saying it was part of the gift of the Anglican Communion.

“If the Communion is a gift, then communication between us is part of that gift. This means sharing insights into what God is calling us to do, wherever we are. It means sharing our witness and our inspiration.”

He added, “There have been times [members of the Anglican Communion] have used communication as a tool to hurt each another. But we must remember that above all we are called to share the love of Christ with the world. That means nothing less than communicating in a way that reflects Christ – a way that is loving and generous, patient and forgiving.”

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Kenneth Kearon said he was excited about what this site would mean for the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

“It has been suggested that the theology of Web 2.0 is Body of Christ theology,” he said. “If so, then good communications is the lifeblood that allows that body to work together to fulfil God’s mission.

“I am delighted that we are able to offer this resource to the people of the Anglican Communion and I invite them to contribute content that they think will be of interest to their brothers and sisters around the world.”

The site was made possible thanks to funding from The Compass Rose Society and the Church Mission Publishing Company, and to support and guidance from members of Anglican Communion worldwide. It was built by Zebedee Creations Ltd.

It is part of a broader communications strategy that includes the relaunched Anglican World magazine (available at and a new website for the Anglican Communion due in 2014.

Visit the new website at

Read Archbishop Welby’s article in the comment section.


WATCH responds to Bishops' proposals on women in the episcopate

WATCH have today issued their response to the bishops’ proposals in GS 1886.

First there is this press release.

Press Release
Tuesday 11 June 2013 12noon

WATCH (Women and the Church) Response to the House of Bishops’ report GS1886

Press Release Summary of WATCH’s response:

WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse. We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.” We agree wholeheartedly with their conclusion that Option One offers the best way forward. WATCH’s full response can be found on the attached document. The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: “It is very heartening to see the House of Bishops give such a strong lead to enable the Church to open all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The gifts of ordained women should be welcomed and celebrated by the Church and all the signs are that the Bishops are now committed to making that happen.”

And then there is this detailed response.

WATCH response to GS 1886 ‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’

WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women, without equivocation.

The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse.

(1) Following the meeting of the House of Bishops on 20-21 May, the report of the Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, together with a report by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on behalf of the House, was issued on 25th May. The WATCH committee has taken time to consider the implications of the report, before issuing this response.

(2) We wish to register our thanks to the House of Bishops and the Working Party for seeking an early resolution within the Church’s own processes to a situation which is undesirable and untenable for the Church of England, and which hinders our mission and credibility in society at large.

(3) Members of General Synod will devote a significant proportion of the July group of sessions to discussion of the matter, and we urge General Synod to support the motion as proposed in the report, following the House of Bishops’ guidance in seeking to frame legislation within the parameters of the Working Group’s ‘option one’.

(4) The Archbishops’ report displays a significant change in tone towards the prospect of having women in the episcopate, and we are greatly encouraged by the positive commitment to this now being demonstrated by the House of Bishops. This, we hope, may go some way to repairing the damage done by the outcome of the Synod vote in November, which is noted in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the report.

We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.”

(5) The principles underlying the Working Party’s thinking (namely, simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality [Annex para. 32f]) seem to us broadly good ones, and we recognise the challenge inherent in moving from principle to legislation.

(6) We welcome particularly the Working Party’s recognition that support for women’s ministry is grounded in theological conviction (Annex paras 37 and 53), something which seems often to have been regarded as the preserve of opponents of the ordained ministry of women.

(7) In this vein, we welcome the commitment to avoiding ‘unacceptable theological or ecclesiological confusion for the whole Church of England’ (Annex para. 31) as we regard such confusion as detrimental to the health and mission of the whole Church of England.

For this reason, we are pleased to see noted as elements of the vision in Annex para. 24 (copied in the Archbishops’ report para. 12) that: • Once legislation has passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being equally open to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to the office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience; Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter. It seems to us very important that, as Annex para. 39 notes, ‘There should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.’

(8) Should General Synod follow the House of Bishops’ leadership in commending Option One, the question will arise as to what should be the nature of the provision for those unable to accept the ordained ministry of women, a House of Bishops’ Declaration or an Act of Synod. It seems to us that there would be merits and drawbacks to each, and that (as for all parties) the detail of the content would be paramount.

(9) We were encouraged to see that there was little support in the House of Bishops for Options 3 and 4, and we would find ourselves unable to support Option 2. The strong support among laity and clergy alike at every synodical level for the previous draft legislation, together with the 2/3 majority achieved in Synod last July in favour of the adjournment of the debate to allow reconsideration of the first iteration of Clause 5(1)(c), convince us that there is no appetite in the Church at large for enshrining discrimination in statute. Even if such discriminatory provision could command the requisite majorities in any General Synod, it is clear that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be unable to recommend such a Measure in Parliament.

We are therefore convinced that the wisest course would be for Synod to follow the House of Bishops’ lead in eschewing any discrimination in law, and thus to allow the Church of England to resolve the matter via her own processes.

(10) Encouraged as we are by the positive tone of the Archbishops’ report, we nevertheless retain some concerns about assumptions. In particular, we again wish to highlight the use of ‘majority/minority’ as shorthand for ‘support/opposition’ to the ordination of women. It is clearly true that, in numerical terms, these are equivalent; however, as we have previously pointed out, ordained women constitute a cultural minority within the Church of England, particularly as regards senior and stipendiary posts. Moreover, we are concerned that such shorthand pays little regard to those – most especially lay people – in favour of women’s ministry in areas where the diocesan hierarchy is predominantly opposed. It seems to us that any pastoral care for ‘minorities’ must, on the basis of reciprocity, take this into serious account. In this connection, we note with concern the overwhelmingly clerical emphasis of the Working Party’s report.

(11) We are interested by the recurrent language of ‘mutual flourishing’. ‘Flourishing’ is, we note, a word with uncertain biblical and liturgical resonances, normally indicating (as in the Prayer Book and Common Worship burial and funeral orders!) impermanence and transience.

We wonder whether it might be more helpful and hopeful for all parties to consider the health of the whole Church, growing together: such growth together in Christ demands coherence of orders, necessitates proper regard for weaker and more vulnerable members (determined on bases other than simply numerical ones) and would enable us to be more credible and more effective for the society we all seek to serve.

WATCH National Committee 10th June 2013


More speeches from the House of Lords debate on the marriage bill

Some speeches in the Lords debate from peers who are not bishops also make instructive reading. Here are a few of them.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

…Finally, I return to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester. I hope that he will not feel it is unfair if I call him my “old friend”, as indeed he is. I have come to the firm conclusion that there is nothing to fear in gay marriage and that, indeed, it will be a positive good not just for same-gender unions but for the institution of marriage generally. The effect will be to put right at the centre of marriage the concept of a stable, loving relationship. As a practising Christian, perhaps I may make the point to the Bishops’ Benches, including to the most reverend Primate, that there is every reason why, in time, the Anglican Church should come to accept that, although I recognise that it may take some time. The character of love which marriage reflects—that it is faithful, stable, tough, unselfish and unconditional—is the same character that most Christians see in the love of God. Marriage is therefore holy, not because it is ordained by God, but because it reflects that most important central truth of our religion: the love of God for all of us.

Lord Black of Brentwood

My Lords, I am a passionate supporter of the Bill. I support it because I believe in the institution of marriage, which is the bedrock of society and should be open to all. I support it because I believe in the values of the family, and the Bill will, in my view, strengthen them. I support it because I am a Conservative. Respect for individual liberty is at the core of my being and this is a Bill that will add to the sum of human freedom. I support it because I am a Christian and I believe we are all equal in the eyes of God, and should be so under man’s laws. I support it because I am one of those people who I fear were rather glibly derided by the noble Lord, Lord Dear, as being part of a tiny minority and, I think, were praised by my noble friend Lady Knight as being delightful, in that I am gay. I am in a civil partnership with somebody with whom I have been together for nearly a quarter of a century. I love him very much and nothing would give me greater pride than to marry him. I hope noble Lords will forgive that personal pronouncement, but it seems to me that my experience goes to the heart of this debate…

Lord Blair of Boughton (formerly Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police)

…It is rather odd that I am speaking between the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester. Nearly 50 years ago, I sat in a room in Chester Cathedral taking my common entrance exam in order to go to Wrekin College, where the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, was a teacher. We are in a different country to that of 1965. No Member of your Lordships’ House could then have made the speeches that we have heard today about being gay. When I took that exam, abortion was illegal, capital punishment was on the statute books, homosexual acts in private were matters for criminal law, and there was no race relations legislation whatever. We are in a much better country, and the tide of history is running in only one direction.

The Bill represents a great and noble cause—what the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, described as a moral cause. I suggest that, for a non-elected House to object to the Bill in this way, particularly after the events of this last weekend, would damage the reputation of this House.

My last point relates to the quadruple lock. I received many letters—as did all noble Lords—one of which I have one in my hand. It is from a young Christian gay man and it is in ink, so I cannot imagine that he sent it to 850 people, though some other noble Lords may have had it. In it he wrote that he was unable to reconcile his Christianity with his sexuality, and the fact that the Bill was being considered at all was helping him combine those two facets.

St Paul wrote to the Galatians that in Jesus Christ there is neither male or female, gentile or Jew, slave or free. I do not think that that was a coded message that everybody was okay except gays. It was an inclusive statement. As a member of the Anglican world, I hope that one day, before I die, I will see the Anglican Church unlock that quadruple lock from the inside…



more comment on the Lords debate and the bishops

The Dean of Durham wrote on The Bishops and Same-Sex Marriage

…As to what the bishops say about marriage, I agree that the proposals are not nearly strong enough on marriage as a covenanted relationship of fidelity. In this respect, the Archbishop is right: same-sex and other-sex marriages would not be entirely equal. But for this reason, I don’t think it is correct to speak about the measure as ‘redefining’ of marriage. The public covenant between two people who love and wish to belong to each other can and should be precisely the same in both. It’s no more a redefining of marriage than the remarriage of divorced people. In some ways, that is the more radical step to take because it entails considering in what way a covenant that has been broken for whatever reason could be entered into a subsequent time with another partner. So if the church is (largely) content to bless and even solemnise such marriages, this next step of making the institution more inclusive should not necessarily pose new difficulties. To enlarge the scope of an institution is not the same as changing its essential meaning.

There is something worryingly familiar about the bishops’ statement however. It is too often the case that the church is on the back foot, at first resisting social change that is wanted by the majority, then coming round to it slowly and grudgingly. This was precisely the case when artificial contraception was being debated in the early 20th century. Lambeth Conferences were root and branch opposed to the idea that sex could be for recreation as well as procreation. It would have been better to adopt the Gamaliel position of saying ‘let us wait and see whether this might be of God’. Much the same can be said about women as priests and bishops in the church.

If you scroll down my blogs on this Woolgathering site, you’ll find my piece on Gamaliel and equal marriage. It’s clearer now than then which way history is moving. It’s not too late for the Church of England to be on the right side of it this time. Without grudge.

Michael Portillo is reported to have said this on a television programme:

“I think it is a good moment to reflect on the fact that whilst this has been presented as an issue that has caused enormous problems for David Cameron and splits within the Conservative Party – actually the problems are really with the Church of England and indeed with the Catholic Church.

“[They] just do not know how to deal with the issue of homosexuality and gay priests and gay bishops and so on. And that is where the division is and the churches are haemorrhaging membership like water disappearing from a bath and they don’t have any way of dealing with this problem.”

Savi Hensman wrote at Ekklesia Church of England’s stance on marriage and sexuality still unclear

Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.

At the beginning of the week of a House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, proposing marriage equality in England and Wales, it might have seemed that the ‘party line’ was clear. Policy and study documents suggest that, while lay Anglicans may conscientiously believe that physically intimate same-sex partnerships can be right, they are in fact wrong, and lifelong celibacy is preferable for those attracted mainly to the same sex.

Issues in human sexuality, a statement by the House of Bishops in 1991, took this line, and urged that clergy abstain from sexual relationships with members of the same sex, though hostility to lesbians and gays was deplorable and intrusive questioning about private lives was discouraged…

Gerry Lynch wrote A Farewell Discourse: The Hard Truths That Set Us Free

…I’ll briefly review the Church of England’s record on LGBT issues, and then I’ll review Justin’s record, which is typical of most Evangelical clergy and pretty much every Evangelical bishop of his generation. I could write an equally critical article about Liberal Catholic bishops, but it would be involve different criticism and, let’s be honest, that’s not who has been driving the agenda on sexuality issues in the Church of England for a long time.

This is, unfair as it may seem, the sum total what you have managed to communicate to LGBTs over the past two decades. It may not be what you wanted to communicate, but it’s what you did.

Over the past 15 years, there has been a revolution in how same-sex relationships have been treated in law in the United Kingdom, as in most Western societies. The Church of England opposed nearly every step of that process, and in the few cases where it didn’t do so formally as a denomination, its Evangelical wing did so vociferously in the media, usually led in the public charge by Archbishop Carey and other senior bishops. And I mean every step – the equalisation of the age of consent; the abolition of the hateful Section 28; the granting of adoption rights to same sex couples; same-sex marriage. The introduction of civil partnerships was accompanied by an attempt to strip them of any social or spiritual meaning and constant denigration of gay and lesbian relationships; it remains forbidden to give civil partnerships any blessing in church. The outlawing of discrimination in employment saw the Church of England attempt to carve out as wide a scope as possible where it could continue to discriminate against queers. And, yes, it was about orientation rather than practice – ask Jeffrey John.

That is the record. There is no point in trying to minimise or obfuscate it. A couple of hours with Google and Hansard will reveal it in almost every detail…


Enough Food for Everyone

The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign held a rally in Hyde park, London this afternoon. The Archbishop of Canterbury sent this video message to the rally.

Earlier in the day the Archbishop addressed an ecumenical church service at Methodist Central Hall via this video to mark the commitment of the faith communities to ending hunger.

Liz Ford reports on the Hyde Park rally in The Guardian: G8 urged to act on hunger after 45,000 gather in London’s Hyde Park.

Huffington Post UK has this report: Enough Food For Everyone If: Danny Boyle, David Beckham, Bill Gates, Speak At Anti-Hunger Rally.

Here are transcripts of the Archbishop’s two messages.

Hyde Park Rally

“It’s amazing that you’re here today. It’s absolutely wonderful that you’ve come together. We’ve come to celebrate the opportunity we have to end hunger in our lifetimes. The only way that’s going to happen is by mass movements of people, like yourselves, getting together, encouraging governments to go on doing what they’re doing well. And a lot of things are being done very well. We’ve seen that in our own country. One of the great things we can celebrate is giving away 0.7% of our national income to help those run the world who need it. I encourage you, keep the pressure on. We can change the world in our own lives.”

Ecumenical Service

“I’m very pleased to be able to welcome you, most warmly, to this service today – to the celebration of the generosity that Jesus Christ has shown us, which we’re called to share with others round the world.

The G8 is the centre of financial resource and power in all kinds of ways. Many members of the G8 are increasingly deeply committed to using that power for the global good. Our own Government is one that has very courageously, at a time of austerity, increased its giving in aid. But it’s important that we put before them the needs of the global community in which we live and with which we are inter dependent.

One of the biggest issues we face is around how aid is used. The issues of tax transparency are increasingly at the top of the agenda and are really, really important.

One of the things that most excites me as a church leader is the role that the church has in ending global hunger and poverty. In many parts of the world, the churches are the most effective networks, through which generosity from other people can be used most effectively and without actually displacing or diminishing the work of the people on the ground locally – local people developing their own countries.

My prayer would be that in this country and across the world, that we are deeply committed to enabling people to be self-sustaining, so that global hunger can be ended in our lifetimes.”



Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that Justin Welby reveals his inner Tory.

Andrew Lilico writes a guest post on Archbishop Cranmer’s blog: Is Anglicanism still the State Religion in England?

Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK asks Are human rights “Christian”? – a reflection.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Greed is good – well, almost. But it must not be the dominant thing.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about The day Hereford tower fell down.

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks What’s an integrity?