Thinking Anglicans

Brazilian court rules against Recife breakaway diocese

The News Service of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil reports:

Court Orders Return of Churches to the Anglican Diocese of Recife / Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil”

After a long judicial battle that lasted for a decade, a Brazilian judge has this month finally decided that the actions taken by Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti in creating of the Diocese of Recife – DR, flagrantly violated Brazilian law as well as Canon law, the Doctrine & Discipline of the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil (IEAB), resulting in the suspension/demotion, and eventual dismissal of Bishop Robinson from his episcopal authority & legal legitimacy for such actions.

With the sentence, it was decreed that all the actions taken by Bishop Robinson were nullified, and all would be returned to the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR), including property, administration & all goods and rights which were illegally usurped, including amongst them five churches with all of their belongings. From now on, all of these parishes are under the direction and supervision of Diocesan Bishop Sebastião Armando…

For some background to this, a Thinking Anglicans report from 2005 may be helpful: Recife: a clarification.

Many of the links from that report are now broken, but the article from the Living Church is still available from the web archive Southern Cone Primate Annexes Brazilian Diocese.

There is also this 2005 report from the Church Times Venables takes Brazilian diocese under his wing. The current issue also has a news report, but this is only available to subscribers.

Anglican Ink has this report by George Conger: Recife loses court battle over church property to the IEAB.

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Church of England and payday lenders – update

I reported on this on Friday here, and there are two links to articles in yesterday’s opinion.

Press reports have referred to the Church of England’s “pension fund”. There are in fact two clergy pensions funds. For service prior to 1998 clergy pensions are paid by the Church Commissioners from their assets. More recent service is financed by the Church of England Pensions Board. It may not be clear from many of the press reports, but the indirect investment in Wonga is held by the Church Commissioners, and not by the Pensions Board. Both bodies take advice from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Channel 4 News has this helpful FactCheck: What else does the Church of England invest in?.

Many more articles have appeared in the last couple of days. Here are some.

The Guardian
Rupert Neate Justin Welby says Wonga revelations will not divert him
William Taylor The church must be an activist: fight for the poor and expose the corrupt
Marina Hyde I’ve got a crush on the archbishop of Canterbury

The Telegraph
Cole Moreton Justin Welby’s Wonga revelation
Jenny McCartney Archbishop Justin Welby is on the money over Wonga

Financial Times
Sharlene Goff and Brooke Masters Archbishop orders inquiry into Wonga funding

The Independent
Editorial Payday lenders? The Church should keep to matters spiritual
Simon Read Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby rows back on war on Wonga: ‘Loan sharks are worse’
Ian Birrell Politics and religion do mix well after all

BBC Radio 4
There was a discussion on ethical investments in this morning’s Sunday programme, starting at 38 minutes.

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opinion

Nick Baines writes on his blog about Same world, different worlds.

Yesterday I linked to Sam Macrory’s interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury for Total Politics: Archbishop’s Move: Can Welby restore faith in the church?. But it wasn’t just about payday lenders; do read it all.

Ian Ellis of the Church of Ireland Gazette interviewed Bishop Nigel Stock on the subject of Women in the Episcopate legislation, during the July 2013 York meeting of the Church of England General Synod.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Welby, Wonga and the moral dilemma of financial investments.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian: Thank God we have an archbishop who views Wonga’s loans as modern slavery.

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Church of England and payday lenders

Updated Friday evening

Sam Macrory has interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury for Total Politics: Archbishop’s Move: Can Welby restore faith in the church?. This long article includes this:

A plan for the church to develop credit unions has been floated, with Welby proud that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is” in developing an alternative to payday money-lenders. The plan, he says, is to create “credit unions that are both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.”

It will, he adds, be a “decade-long process”, but Welby is ready for the battle with the payday giants. “I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.” He flashes that smile again. “He’s a businessman; he took that well.”

This prompted articles in the press, such as these:

Madeleine Davies Church Times Watch out, Wonga, warns Welby
Andrew Grice The Independent War on Wonga: We’re putting you out of business, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tells payday loans company
Miles Brignall The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury wants to ‘compete’ Wonga out of existence
Sam Marsden The Telegraph Archbishop warns Wonga that Church wants to force it out of business
Nick Moody New Statesman Welby’s war on Wonga
The Telegraph Church of England: People are not aware of credit unions
The Independent Video: Church of England’s war on Wonga

But then some embarrassing news broke:

Sharlene Goff and Brooke Masters Financial Times Church of England invests in Wonga backer
Rupert Neate, Miles Brignall and Rupert Jones The Guardian Church of England holds stake in Wonga financial backer
Hayley Dixon The Telegraph Church of England pension fund linked to Wonga

The Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed by John Humphreys on BBC Radio 4 this morning: Church of England ‘must be consistent’. [duration 16:17]

Papers are already reporting on this interview:

Peter Walker The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury embarrassed about church’s financial link to Wonga
Adam Withnall and Ian Burrell The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury confesses: Church’s Wonga investments are “very embarrassing”

There is also this short BBC News interview: Wonga row: Archbishop of Canterbury ‘embarrassed’ over Church funds.
The Telegraph has Archbishop of Canterbury Just Welby promises investigation into Wonga investment.

Update
Madeleine Davies sums it all up for the Church Times: Church investments undermine Welby’s tilt at Wonga.

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WATCH responds to Steering Committee membership

Women and the Church (WATCH) issued this statement today.

Response to the announcement of the membership of the Steering Committee Appointments Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The prompt formation of the Steering Committee, demonstrating the Church of England’s determination to proceed with its commitment to opening the episcopate to women, is welcomed by WATCH.

We are glad to receive information on the committee’s makeup, particularly the inclusion of experienced, respected women, lay and ordained, in the discussions. We note the strong presence of those representing groups opposed to the episcopal ministry of women and requesting provision and hope that presence of the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation will enable the different groups to work together to produce constructive legislation.

We look forward to seeing legislation produced that will:

  • honour and uphold both the content and spirit of Option One, which received strong support from General Synod in July
  • reflect the House of Bishops unequivocal support for women within all three orders of ministry.
  • enable women to flourish in all ministries to which God calls them; lay, ordained and episcopal, on equality with men, reflecting the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.
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General Synod miscellaneous

The following are now available.

The official summary of the business transacted at the Synod: Business Done.

Electronic voting lists

I have already published details of the voting on women in the episcopate. Also available are the voting lists for the debates on Safeguarding and Welfare Reform. The vote on the Welfare Reform debate shows one vote against. I have confirmed that this was a mistake. The person concerned pressed the wrong button and was unable to correct this error before the voting period (one minute) came to an end.

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Women in the episcopate – electronic voting results

Updated

Electronic voting results for this month’s General Synod debate on the women bishops legislation have now been published. These take the form of pdf files, arranged by houses (in two cases), by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

I list below the four items voted on electronically, and the voting figures in each case. At the end I link to my consolidated version of the four votes arranged by synod number.

Item 39 (The Revd Paul Benfield amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priest or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to make statutory provision for opponents. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 39 For Against abstain
Bishops 7 34 0
Clergy 48 137 4
Laity 75 115 4

Item 42 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to include in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 42 For Against abstain
Bishops 10 28 1
Clergy 55 128 8
Laity 93 100 4

Item 46 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest -in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

This amendment was defeated on a division of the whole Synod (200 in favour, 210 against and 15 recorded abstentions). But I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 46 For Against abstain
Bishops 15 23 2
Clergy 87 98 4
Laity 98 89 9

The final vote was on the substantive motion: Item 16 (as amended by items 45 and 47). The two successful amendments were each carried on a show of hands. They added the references to a grievance procedure, and to the use of facilitated conversations.

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

This was carried on a division of the whole Synod (319 in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions). Again I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 16 For Against abstain
Bishops 37 2 1
Clergy 154 27 8
Laity 128 55 13

Spreadsheet of votes [Updated Friday night to correct totals for House of Bishops]

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies. For this purpose an “absentee” is someone who did not record an electronic vote (for/against/abstention). There are various reasons for being an absentee.

Update 1: There is also this webpage version of my spreadsheet.

Update 2: For convenience I have extracted below the voting records for the members of the Steering Committee.

surname   house   item 39 item 42 item 46 item 16
Benfield Paul clergy 67 For For For Against
Charman Jane clergy 203 Against Against Against For
Cotton Robert clergy 125 Against Against Against For
Giddings Philip laity 367 For For For For
Gooder Paula laity 249 Against Against Against For
Hardman Christine clergy 214 Against Against Against For
Harrison Jamie laity 301 Against Against Against For
Langstaff James bishops 34 Against Against abstain For
Leafe Susannah laity 416 For For For Against
Mallett Rosemarie clergy 216 Against Against Against For
Swinson Margaret laity 341 Against Against For For
Thomas Roderick clergy 120 For For For Against
Warner Martin bishops 14 For For For Against
Willmott Trevor bishops 45 Against Against Against For
Winter Dagmar clergy 168 For Against Against For
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Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The membership of the Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation for the Church of England General Synod has just been announced.

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation
22 July 2013

The Appointments Committee of General Synod has announced the membership of the Steering Committee to take charge of the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee will meet a number of times in September and October to prepare the draft legislation for consideration at the November meeting of the Synod . The size and membership of the Committee will be reviewed by the Appointments Committee after this initial phase of work.

As outlined at this month’s Synod in York the size of the newly formed Steering Committee reflects the suggestion from the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, urging “facilitated discussions” to continue. Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of reconciliation, who guided the facilitated discussions at Synod, helped advise the appointments committee.

Steering Committee members
The Revd Paul Benfield
The Revd Canon Jane Charman
The Revd Canon Robert Cotton
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
The Ven Christine Hardman
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)
Mrs Susannah Leafe
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Canon Margaret Swinson
The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas
The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott
The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)

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Archbishop Announces Independent Inquiry

From the Archbishop of York’s website.

Archbishop Announces Independent Inquiry
Monday 22nd July 2013

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has today announced the appointment of Her Honour Judge Sally Cahill QC to be Chair of an independent Inquiry into the Church’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester.

Follow the link for full details.

This relates to our report in May: C of E accused of cover-up over child abuse.

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The Church of England's search for salvation

Robert McCrum writes in The Observer today about The Church of England’s search for salvation. “The Church of England is in crisis. Its position on women bishops and gay marriage has alienated much of society. Robert McCrum visits its parishes and asks if the future lies with those it has spurned.”

To accompany the article, photographer Karen Robinson presents The Church of England today – in pictures.

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Sentamu calls for living wage

The Archbishop of York has published this article in The Observer today: John Sentamu: the scandal of the millions not paid enough to live on. The article is also available on the Archbishop’s website.

Also in The Observer are these two articles by its political editor Toby Helm.
‘The scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal,’ says Sentamu
Welcome to York, the city that wants to launch a living wage

Daniel Johnson reports on the Archbishop’s article for The Telegraph: Archbishop of York calls for living wage to tackle ‘national scandal’ of low pay.

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The London Plan

From the Diocese of London website:

THE LONDON PLAN

The ‘London Plan’ is a declaration made by the Bishop of London, all the Area Bishops and the Bishop of Fulham. It relates to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 and the Code of Practice 1994.

The London Plan sets out how certain parts of the Bishop of London’s authority – such as to ordain and license clergy – may be delegated to the other bishops of the Diocese of London.

Crucially it allows parochial church councils to petition the Bishop of London to allow pastoral care for that parish to be exercised by a bishop other than the Area Bishop, usually the Bishop of Fulham.

The plan is available for download: The London Plan.

This is a revised version of the Plan and is dated 1 July 2013.

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opinion

Sarah Greeks writes for Humane Pursuits: Half-time Huddle: Why I Lack Enthusiasm for the Church. She has 22 reasons.

Frank Brennan (an Australian Jesuit) writes for Eureka Street that It’s time to recognise secular same sex marriage.

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks What is Christianity for anyway?

Nelson Jones asks in the New Statesman Does it matter that young people in Britain aren’t religious?

Michael Jensen presents an insider’s view for ABC Religion and Ethics: The church and the world: The politics of Sydney Anglicanism.

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Women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion

YES 2 Women Bishops has published this useful Infographic: women bishops in the Anglican Communion showing the status of women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion.

They have also published a summary of what General Synod did last week, Synod’s resolve, and these thoughts on where we are now.

So where does this all leave us? A few thoughts:

1. It seems premature for anyone to try to decide whether this form of legislation is acceptable or not. Whilst on the face of it, the proposal seems to be closer to what supporters of women bishops wanted and further from what opponents wanted, the reality of how this works will be in the Act of Synod or House of Bishops declaration which will set out the provisions for those opposed. There is a bit of a phoney war already underway with opponents of women bishops claiming that only provisions set out in the face of the legislation are adequate. In truth they already operate very happily under an Act of Synod which is detested by women clergy. This would imply that this form of provision is perfectly acceptable in other areas for those who cannot accept women bishops. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that any new Act of Synod provides precisely the provisions that opponents are looking for and is problematic for supporters of women bishops, so we really don’t yet know what the final package will look like. There is still a lot of work to do.

2. The synodical arithmetic has clearly not changed in any significant way – opponents remain opposed and supporters remain supportive. If it were put to another final vote today, requiring a two thirds majority in each house, it looks like it would still fail. For this reason, the legislative timetable is intriguing. In theory the final vote could come in the last sitting of the current synod, before elections are held and a new synod is formed. It seems implausible that a final vote will be held in the current synod session if it looks like the blocking minority remains opposed to the legislation in the run up to the final vote. Instead, the final vote will be shunted into the next Synod session when a new group have been elected, in the hope that the blocking minority is removed. Such a tactic is high risk, as there is no guarantee that this would be the outcome of synod elections. This means that unless some hearts and minds are won over in the next 12-18 months, synod elections will be dominated by this issue as each “side” seeks to get more of their number into general synod.

3. We’re back on our way. We must remain hopeful that Synod will succeed this time. The resolution passed last week is strong and positive, and so must we be. We must give thanks to those who have worked to make this happen, and resolve to pray and support them in the months and years ahead until we finally see the day when Christian women are able to fulfill their divine calling and serve as bishops.

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Marriage Bill gets Royal Assent: some reactions

Updated

As noted in the Comments below, the text of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is now available online here.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales issued this statement: Statement on on the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act

…The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted. The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in “having regard” to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can “take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets”, and that “having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so”. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed…

Christian Concern has issued this: Challenge issued to Archbishop over Lords vote on same sex marriage

…Mrs Minichiello Williams said in her letter: “I am surprised that the Church of England appears to be vacating the public square when it comes to the issue of marriage. Given the rich teaching of Scripture and strong tradition of marriage, this is something that the CofE should be able to comment on clearly, intelligently and winsomely.
“Marriage is something to be celebrated, promoted and, at this time, preserved. At a time when the nation needs to hear a prophetic voice on marriage, the CofE’s message is sadly mixed and, as a result, unclear.”

Second Reading vote

A Church of England official replied on behalf of the Archbishop, in which he argued that the vote on the Bill at Second Reading had a detrimental effect on the chances of securing subsequent amendments to the Bill.

Lord Dear introduced a ‘wrecking amendment’ at Second Reading which, had it been successful, would have derailed the Bill.

The Church official said in his letter that this move went against House of Lords tradition and protocol and therefore was a serious misjudgement.

Precedent

But in her reply, Mrs Minichiello Williams referred to the clear precedent for voting at Second Reading as a means of voting on the principle of a Bill. She said: “It was very disappointing that the Archbishop himself said in the Second Reading debate that he was against the vote on Second Reading. In the event, of course, the Archbishop himself voted against the Bill, but his statement could well have dissuaded peers from voting with Lord Dear…

Media reports:

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Cathedral admission charges

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, recently gave this written answer in the House of Commons to a question on the cost to visitors of accessing religious buildings.

Religious Buildings: Fees and Charges

Dr Offord: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the cost to visitors of accessing religious buildings. [163105]

Sir Tony Baldry: Of the 42 Dioceses in England (excluding Sodor and Man and Europe) only nine cathedrals charge an entry fee. Chester Cathedral has just abolished all entry charges. Unlike the national museums none of the Church of England’s cathedral or church buildings receive grant in aid from the Government.

All cathedrals which charge for entry give free access to those attending services (of which there are a number every day of the week), to those who arrive on pilgrimage or wish to pray, some give free entry on Sundays and at other times, generally early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and others give free entry to local residents or church attenders in their Dioceses.

Only two of the great parish churches charge entry fees or a modest charge to enter part of the church. They are St Bartholomew’s the Great in London Diocese and Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon in Coventry diocese the resting place of William Shakespeare.

Both the churches and cathedrals resort to charging primarily to recover the cost of repairing the fabric of the building due to the large volume of tourist visitors they receive.

The English Cathedrals and Royal Peculiars that currently charge for entry as of June 2013:

Canterbury
Coventry
Ely
Exeter
Lincoln
Christ Church, Oxford (to enter college)
St George’s Chapel, Windsor (to enter castle)(1)
St Paul’s
Westminster Abbey(1)
Winchester
York Minster

(1) Royal Peculiar

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Women Bishops: Catholic Group in General Synod responds

The Catholic Group in General Synod issued a statement last week after the General Synod debate on Women in the Episcopate. It is not yet available on the Group’s website, but we have been given this copy.

Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod

We welcome the clear commitment of General Synod to make provision for all in the Church of England.

We are fully supportive of a new kind of legislative process involving facilitated conversations as outlined by the Bishop of Willesden and endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and most members of Synod.

It is clear, from the voting on a number of the amendments, that the amended Option 1 will need a considerable amount of further work in order to build a sufficient consensus for when it comes to the Synod for Final Approval in 2015.

Martin Dales on behalf of the Group

1 Comment

Reactions to the passage of the Marriage Bill by the House of Lords

The Quakers have issued this press release: Quakers greet Lords’ support for equal marriage.

The Unitarians issued Unitarians welcome further step forward for Same Sex Marriage.

The Evangelical Alliance published Christians must model real marriage to society

The Christian Institute sent this email to its mailing list: Deeply disappointed, but utterly resolved to keep proclaiming the truth. And later it published Wrecking marriage will ‘come back to bite’ PM.

The Campaign For Marriage issued this: Party machines push Bill through.

Christian Concern has issued this: Peers approve same sex marriage bill.

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House of Commons considers Marriage bill amendments

The House of Commons will shortly consider the amendments made to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by the House of Lords.

Several documents have been published:

A list of all the amendments made by the Lords.

David Burrowes MP has proposed an amendment to one of those made in the Lords.

The House of Commons Library has published an analysis of the Lords amendments which can be found linked from this page.

The amendments have been marshalled for the Commons debate in this manner.

Two hours have been allowed for the debate which will start around 7.45 pm or so.

Update
The House of Commons voted to accept all the amendments, by voice vote.

The Hansard record starts here.

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Nigerian Anglican Primate supports capital punishment

As background to the following news reports, here is an Opinion article from the Nigerian website Leadership entitled Much Ado About The Return Of Death Penalty.

The return of death penalty in the country after a seven-year moratorium has been on the front burner of public discussion, while the trend has been heavily criticised by organisations in defence of human rights, many people believe it is a step in the right direction. Uche Uduma samples the opinions of Nigerians on the issue.

In a bid to tackle the problem of prison congestion in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan recently called on the 36 state governors to sign death warrants to facilitate the immediate execution of the over 900 death row inmates in prisons spread across the country.

Following the directive by the President, the Edo state Governor Adams Oshomole, signed the death warrants of four convicted prisoners in the state prison. The recent execution of four convicts in Benin put an end to a seven-year moratorium on death penalty in the country. The execution of a fifth condemned inmate, who was to be executed by firing squad was not carried out because the prison where the convict was incarcerated does not have facilities to carry out such execution.

Since 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it. In line with this, about 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it. The return of death penalty in Nigeria has obviously put a strain on the campaign by United Nations to eliminate death penalty as a form of punishment. However, other states in Nigeria are making steps to hand down more death penalties.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the official opening of the 5th World Conference against the death penalty last week implored political leaders in countries that still have such laws in their justice systems across the world to abolish it. He pointed that the campaign to eliminate the death penalty as a form of punishment has mainly faced resistance from political leaders…

Now here are several reports about the Anglican Primate’s contribution to this debate.

(more…)

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