Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement – episode 6

Updated yet again Saturday morning

First of all, a roundup of links on the story so far. Episode 5 was here. Earlier episodes all linked from there.

Since our original publication of Linda Woodhead’s article An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage we had a follow-up in More about historical error in the House of Bishops statement.

And we have also reported that the LGBTI Anglican Coalition sends open letter to House of Bishops and Bishop of Oxford writes to his clergy on same-sex marriage.

Now the new items.

Today in the Church Times there is Sexuality ‘fudge’ sticks in critics’ throats by Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake. This quotes the Archbishop of York:

Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England’s position was that “a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.

“Immediately, when you say that, people say that I’m homophobic. You can’t win on this one. How can I, on one hand, uphold the teaching of sexuality as I see it in scripture, and yet, at the same time, say – this is Anglican fudge – that people’s sexual orientation cannot lead to discrimination because they’re human beings just like anybody else, and God loves them deeply?

“As far as I’m concerned, whatever the sexual orientation, gay people are people, and they need to be given the same protection.”

The story also reports that:

In addition, a group of 21 academics has stated that a statement in the Bishops’ guidance “is wrong”. The guidance suggested that the legalisation of gay marriage meant that, “for the first time” civil law and C of E doctrine of marriage diverged.

The academics, who include Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor David Martin, and Professor Linda Woodhead, call this “inaccurate and misleading”, arguing that the Church’s understanding of marriage has differed from civil law since at least 1857, around questions of divorce and second marriage.

In reply, the secretary to the House of Bishops, William Fittall, wrote this week that the bishops knew that canon law and statute law had not been identical for years.

He maintained, however, that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partners was of a different order of disagreement.

He also said that the point about a divergence between canon and statute law was not essential to the bishops’ theological case.

The full text of the letter, which has now been sent to all members of the House of Bishops, is available below the fold.

Update 1 The CofE Communications Office on Friday afternoon published Full Correspondence with Professor Linda Woodhead on Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance.

Update 2 Alan Wilson has published Who’s fooling who about history?

…It seems to me vastly unfair on those who struggled against Deceased Wife’s Sister marriages between 1842 and 1907 to suggest that a marriage setup that ran counter to Leviticus 18:18 should be a minor matter of “accidents” whilst one that potentially breaches Leviticus 18:24 should be a fundamental, matter of “substance.”

What really intrigues me about the whole rhetoric of “redefinition” developed by the Moral Majority on the West Coast in the 1990’s is how appealing it is to those who don’t want to allow gay people to marry, but how completely ineffective it has been with everyone else. Not only did it pancake seriously in both houses of the UK parliament, but all those right wing websites that swore to carry on the struggle after the legislation went through last year seem to have packed up and gone home. I wonder why?

Update 3 It appears that Update 1 left out one of the emails received by Linda Woodhead.

[Original article continues]

And there is an analysis of the Bishop of Oxford’s letter by David Pocklington here: Oxon Ad Clerum: Bishops’ Pastoral Statement

The Church Times also carries a very interesting article by Will Adam titled Breaking the rules on gay marriage but this is available only to subscribers.

The Bishop of Salisbury issued this statement: Bishop Calls Attention to Same-Sex Marriage Guidance.



Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

27 February 2014

The Bishop’s Palace at Wells was discussed by the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners at its meeting last Tuesday (25th February). This was the first meeting of the Board since it made its decision at the end of November last year.

At the meeting the Commissioners were given an opportunity to read the correspondence received and examine the petition recently presented to the Secretary to the Commissioners. They were also provided with a report of the public meeting attended by Sir Tony Baldry MP.

During their discussion the Commissioners discussed the views of those opposed to their decision and acknowledged the strong feelings that the decision had aroused within the diocese. It was noted that there were also voices of support for the decision.

The Commissioners reiterated their understanding that the ministry of the new Bishop should not be encumbered or restricted by being housed in a place with a high level of public access which is guaranteed and even encouraged in relation to which he might be expected to fulfil a significant role.

Reference was made to the statement of needs for the new Bishop of Bath and Wells which recommended that “the bishop will need to develop a new, and less demanding, relationship with the Palace Trust, in order to be able to focus better on the life of the wider diocese.”

The Commissioners also reiterated their support for the Bishop’s working arrangements and the shared offices of the Bishop of Bath & Wells and the Bishop of Taunton situated in the north wing of the Palace and for the Bishop’s Chapel which will continue to be used for daily prayer, a weekly staff Eucharist, and other services.

The Commissioners agreed that a group would investigate and consult on alternative uses for the Bishop’s apartment in the Palace which would be consonant with the continued rhythm of work and worship at the heart of the Palace.

In reaffirming their decision the Commissioners also confirmed their intention to write formally to the standing committee of the Bishop’s Council in the Diocese of Bath and Wells with notice of their intention for the Bishop’s residence to be moved from the Palace to a new temporary residence.


GAFCON chairman criticises CofE bishops for support of same-sex marriages

The Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, writes in his capacity as Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council to the “Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends”. The letter includes the following passage:

…After the praise that greeted the news that Oxford University is to honour the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States with an honorary Doctorate in Divinity, it was helpful to be reminded of the sober facts in the Statement issued by the Global South Primates Steering Committee last week. It was recognized that ‘the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003’ and the Communion’s London based institutions were described as ‘dysfunctional’.

The breadth of the wide gate can be dangerously appealing as an easy choice, avoiding the need for theological discernment and church discipline. This is why I have already written a response ( earlier this month to the Statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York about pastoral care for people who engage in same sex relationships.

Sadly, the lack of clarity in that statement about the biblical understanding of such relationships has been repeated in the pastoral guidance issued subsequently by the Church of England’s House of Bishops as same sex ‘marriage’ becomes legal in England and Wales next month. While the Church’s official teaching on marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman is affirmed, it is effectively contradicted by the permission given for prayers to be said for those entering same sex ’marriages’…


Bishop of Oxford writes to his clergy on same-sex marriage

From the Diocese of Oxford website: Bishop John writes to clergy on same-sex marriage.

In a letter to the clergy in the Diocese of Oxford today (26 February 2014), Bishop John writes about the recent statement by the House of Bishops on same-sex marriage.

“This is a very difficult part of the letter to get right. I know that what I write will be unacceptable to gay clergy who despair of the Church of England, and to conservatives who will see compromise looming. But I can’t not write about the Pastoral Letter and Appendix on Same Sex Marriage which emerged recently. I wish I could talk individually to everyone in order to engage properly and personally, but we all know this is impossible. I sit amongst many different loyalties and seek to honour as many of them as possible.



LGBTI Anglican Coalition sends open letter to House of Bishops

As a follow-up to the press release issued last week in response to the House of Bishops Pastoral Statement, the LGBTI Anglican Coalition has sent an open letter to all members of the House of Bishops.

The statement on the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, issued by the House of Bishops 14 February 2014 has caused a great deal of anger and dismay amongst the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities, not least because its tone and action has foreclosed on many of the issues which should be the subject of the facilitated discussions called for in the Pilling Report. We remain committed to these discussions but given the breakdown in trust which has resulted from recent actions it is now even more important that these conversations take place in a way which is not only impartial, but which is seen to be impartial by all of the bodies that are concerned.

We look forward to the opportunity of continued debate, and the open letter, attached, which has been sent to the House of Bishops of the Church of England is intended to help to rebuild some of the ground upon which the debate may take place…

The full text of the letter can be read here.

A blog article which conveniently summarises the letter has been published by Ekklesia: Savi Hensman Bishops face searching questions on same-sex marriage guidance:

…Emphasising “the traditional Anglican ‘insistence upon the duty of thinking and learning as essential elements in the Christian life’ (Lambeth Conference 1930) and ‘facing with intellectual integrity the questions raised by modern knowledge’ (Lambeth 1958)”, it asks how the House of Bishops has informed itself of the work of theologians arguing for greater acceptance from 1940 to the present.

Three-and-a-half decades after the start of a formal process of studying sexuality, including dialogue with lesbian and gay people, it asks how the findings have informed the thinking of the House of Bishops.

The letter also makes the point that “there are many LGBTI clergy who, in good conscience seeking to model their household according to the way of Christ, are intending to marry or to convert their civil partnership to marriage”, and asks “How will you ensure that these clergy can contribute fully and equally to the proposed discussions, without fear of sanction?”

In addition “we would ask how you intend to resolve the issues of the presumed bipolarity of male and female in gender and sexual orientations and in their relationships in the light of the latest scientific and theological knowledge” so that all “who seek to enter committed, loving and faithful relationships can find their rightful place within a renewed church which draws its teaching from the New Covenant and the unconditional love of Christ?”


Bishops and welfare reforms

Updated Thursday morning

Since I published Bishops slam David Cameron’s welfare reforms last Thursday a number of more or less related articles have appeared.

Andrew Brown The Guardian Christians less generous than their clergy and everyone else
[see update below]

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bishops do not speak for own flock on welfare, study suggests

Tim Wyatt Church Times War of words between bishops and Government

Two retired archbishops have their say.
Rowan Williams Daily Mirror Food bank users are not scroungers and this isn’t a hiccup – it’s a serious crisis
George Carey Daily Mail Bishops are naive over cuts, warns former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey

John McDermott Financial Times A different banking crisis

Jessica Elgot Huffington Post UK Welfare Cuts: Have Christian Leaders Become The New Voice Of The Left?

The future of welfare: a Theos collection

Linda Woodhead Westminster Faith Debates
Churchgoers favour reduction in the welfare budget
What British People Really Believe

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church The bishops: the real opposition?

It’s been announced Bishop to Lead Parliamentary Inquiry into Foodbanks and Food Poverty.


Following representations from Theos The Guardian has amended the article by Andrew Brown linked above, changed the headline to Christians more hostile to benefit claimants than their clergy and added this note at the end:

This article, including the headlines, was amended on 26 February 2014 to clarify that research which suggested that large numbers of Christians believed spending on social security should be reduced was not done by the Christian thinktank Theos.

Gillan Scott comments on his Politics & Religion in the UK blog Are Christians really more hostile to benefit claimants than their bishops?


More about historical error in the House of Bishops statement

Following the publication here of Linda Woodhead’s article titled An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage some further discussion continued at Law and Religion UK where Frank Cranmer wrote An error in the House of Bishops’ Guidance on Same Sex Marriage? – perhaps not.

Now, Scot Peterson has published Generalizations, Just-So Stories and Marriage Law and Doctrine. He reviews the discussion so far, explaining that:

..As Iain McLean and I have written in our recent book, Legally Married, the law of marriage in the UK has changed frequently. Here, the question is whether the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 is ‘the first time’ there has been a divergence between

the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law
the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.

After laying out the facts he is in no doubt about the outcome, finishing with:

…Conclusion: Woodhead’s argument is correct, and Arora and Cranmer are mistaken. The House of Bishops’ statement is in error. The civil law in England and Wales (and elsewhere) has frequently diverged from religious rules about marriage. Social norms about marriage have moved ahead, public policy about marriage, expressed in laws, has evolved, and so has church doctrine, but not always at the same rate. It would be honest of the Church of England, and its bishops, to admit that fact and get on with it.


Reactions to the House of Bishops statement – episode 5

Updated Monday afternoon

Links to Episode 4 and to earlier items here.

Two articles have appeared that deal with the question of what sanctions, if any, are available to the bishops for dealing with those clergy who themselves enter into a same-sex marriage.

At Law & Religion UK David Pocklington asks: Tougher sanctions against clergy who marry same-sex partner?

At Ecclesiastical Law Philip Jones writes at considerable length: Clergy Discipline and Same Sex Marriage: Inappropriate Conduct?

…The obvious legal solution to the pastoral difficulty is to amend the law, and so bring clergy discipline into alignment with the Church’s teaching. This would require new legislation making it a specific ecclesiastical offence for clergy to enter into same sex marriages.

Any amendment of the Clergy Discipline Measure to include such an offence would, of course, require the approval of Parliament, which might not be forthcoming in the present climate of opinion. However, the General Synod has a common law power to legislate by canon, inherited from the Convocations, which does not require parliamentary approval (see Synodical Government Measure 1969)…

Gillan Scott has Unpacking the ‘doublespeak’ of the C of E’s latest statement on same-sex marriage

Two more statements from individual dioceses:

  • Diocese of Guildford (from the Bishop of Dorking) by email (not yet appeared on diocesan website):

You will no doubt have heard through the media news of the Pastoral Letter which the House of Bishops has issued as guidance concerning the Same Sex Marriage Act which comes into force at the end of March this year. Inevitably, the media have highlighted what is seen as the negative outcome rather than the many positive things which the Guidance has to say. The Letter and the accompanying advice contained in the Appendix are available online on the Church of England website. Please read all of it very carefully.

You will notice, and this is what Bishop Christopher and I were keen to point out in our earlier letter to the clergy, that a pastoral response of prayers is encouraged, where appropriate, to gay couples who may enquire about the possibility of some form of service. This would not be any fomal rite or liturgy but, as paragraph 22 of the Appendix states, a ‘more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of circumstances’. My own view is that this might be best done in the couple’s home.

Yours in Christ



The Bishop of Blackburn has issued this statement:

Statement by the Bishop of Blackburn on the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement – 24.02.14.

(Broadcast on BBC Lancashire Breakfast)

Bishop Julian declined the invitation to take part in the broadcast, but issued the following statement:

“In the light of the sensitive nature of the discussions within the Church, I am reluctant to be drawn in to public discussion at this stage. There are strongly held views in totally opposing directions while the Church seeks to resolve those differences. The two year process of consultation agreed by the Church would be a time to listen to one another and study the Scriptures as together we seek to discover the mind of Christ.”

Fulcrum has issued a statement:

Fulcrum response to the HoB Pastoral Statement on same-sex marriages

Fulcrum is grateful to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the House of Bishops for their careful pastoral letter and statement. It is appropriate that the House of Bishops should uphold the present doctrine of the Church in advance of the facilitated conversations on which assurances have been given that they have no pre determined outcome. They are simply sworn to do that by their office. Any other outcome would have been prejudicial to those conversations taking place. We recognise that their statement is not universally welcomed, but hope that it may create space in which the conversations can begin and end in Christ.

We are also aware that any statement they made was sadly likely to be challenged legally, which will be a costly thing in mission, pastoral emotion, money, and reputation of the whole body of Christ. We hope that others will join with us in praying that our focus for mission as the Church of England may go forward without such distraction; but in doing that we also recognise those of the LGBTI community who will experience most sharply the Bishops’ call for restraint.


Progress on implementing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act

A second commencement order has been made:
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provision) Order 2014
The explanatory note includes:

…This Order brings into force the majority of the provisions of the Act extending marriage to same sex couples under the law of England and Wales.

…Article 3 brings into force on 13th March 2014 the majority of the Act extending marriage to same sex couples, allowing notice of such marriages to be given from that date. The provisions which are commenced exclude those relating to where a spouse changes legal gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (c. 7) and those relating to conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage under section 9 of the Act…

The results of the consultation on the Shared Buildings Regulations are published here.

The following items have already been approved by Parliament:

Six items of secondary legislation are now before Parliament for approval:

And there are others in the pipeline:

  • The Social Security (Graduated Retirement Benefit) (Married Same Sex Couples) Regulations 2014.
  • The National Health Service Pension Scheme Additional Voluntary Contributions, Compensation for Premature Retirement and Injury Benefits (Amendment) Regulations 2014
  • The Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2014

See also David Pocklington Same-Sex Marriage – Update


Women Bishops: electronic voting results

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available as pdf files. As all were votes of the whole synod they are arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically by name.

For convenience I have put the results relevant to women bishops into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies.

There were two votes:

  • Item 515: That Clauses 1-6 stand part of the Canon
    Many Synod members would have viewed this as a vote on the principle of allowing women to be bishops.
    This was carried with 304 votes in favour and 33 against. 45 abstentions were recorded.
  • Item 10: a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii)
    This motion was to allow the reference to the dioceses to be completed in less time than usual so that final approval can be taken at the July 2014 Synod.
    This was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against. 9 abstentions were recorded.

From the voting lists I have counted the votes in each house.

item 515 For Against Abstention


item 10 For Against Abstention

At final approval a two-thirds majority will be required in each house for the Women in the Episcopate legislation to be carried.

Here is the full set of electronic voting results:

Tuesday 11 February

Item 515 – Draft Amending Canon No.33 (clauses 1-6)
Item 10 – Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iii)
Item 519B – The Church Representation Rules Amendment Resolution

Wednesday 12 February

Item 13 – Southwark Diocesan Synod Motion Environmental Issues
Item 27 – Girl Guides’ Promise



Kevin Hart at ABC Religion & Ethics asks Who, then, shall be saved? The Lord’s Prayer and religious pluralism.

Maggi Dawn blogs 40 ways: keeping a joyful, thankful, holy Lent and Church and Theological Jargon

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes The Guardian George Herbert: the man who converted me from atheism

Sally Newall The Independent A new generation of vicars: More and more young people are choosing a life of wing tips and clerical collars
[Wing tips appear to be a type of brogue.]

Richard Beck at his Experimental Theology blog Search Term Friday: Jesus Crucified Over Adam’s Grave

Steve Cornforth blogs So am I a Christian or not?

Giles Fraser The Guardian Yes, the church is bloody angry about these attacks on the poor, and rightly so

Vicky Beeching Church Times Christian feminism is not an oxymoron


Reactions to the House of Bishops statement – episode 4

The Bishop of Norwich has issued a letter to his clergy, but to date I have not been able to find it on the diocesan website. So here is a local copy of it.

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has published a guest article on his blog by The Revd Canon Dr Jack McDonald.

Christian Concern has issued a lengthy letter to its supporters urging them to write to their bishops. See ACTION ALERT: Challenge Bishops and Archbishops to tell the truth about marriage.

The Barnet and Potters Bar Times reports that the Parish of St Mary’s in East Barnet to make stand against Church of England leaders on same-sex blessings.

…Members of the St Mary’s Church council now plan to meet and formulate a statement in response to the House of Bishop’s latest refusal to be moved on the subject.

Church rector James Mustard said he expects his parish to release the statement in the coming weeks and says it is an important subject for the image and ministry of his church in the area.

He said: “The feeling is that this ongoing prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is harmful to our relationship with the community, whether they come to the church or not.

“I think it is important that churches in favour of supporting same-sex couples with blessings should speak out, and we’re preparing to issue a statement opposing the House of Bishops’ decision.”

This week’s Church Times has several items:

News articles by Madeleine Davies
Bishops’ same-sex-marriage statement provokes anger and defiance and
Disobedient clergy risk rebuke

…On Tuesday, the Revd Will Adam, Vicar of St Paul’s, Winchmore Hill, in north London, who edits the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, said that it could be argued that clergy had to comply with the prohibition on same-sex marriage because they had sworn the oath of canonical obedience.

If defiance was deemed to be a doctrinal offence, the case would have to be taken up by the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved. “It’s a panel who are, or have been, very senior judges or diocesan bishops. So it’s pretty big. Would a bishop be brave enough to bring such a case?” He said that it had met only twice since it was established.

A case could be brought under the CDM, Mr Adam suggested, if the offence was defined as sexual misconduct. The House of Bishops was on “pretty safe ground” with regard to equality legislation, he believed, given the exemptions that applied to religious organisations…

Leader Comment: Same-sex marriage

…Given their consistent opposition to same-sex marriage, the St Valentine’s statement was predictable. It would help greatly, though, if it were acknowledged for what it is: a holding position. We do not think it will hold for long; nor can it, unless congregations feel no responsibility for what is clearly a pastoral disaster, or are willing to be seen as “akin to racists”. Archbishop Welby spoke of “courageous Churches”. It ought not to take courage to treat LGBT people more lovingly. But perhaps courage is precisely what the Bishops lack, since to treat someone lovingly is to treat him or her equally.

Letters to the Editor: Gay marriage: the Bishops and public opinion

…We do not all agree about same-sex marriage, nor about how the Church of England should respond. But we are all of a mind on this: if the Church of England is serious about intentional evangelism to a generation that regards us with a mixture of apathy and contempt, and if we are to reverse our fast institutional retreat from relevance in the life of this nation, we need urgently to change the tone and manner of our discussions on matters relating to human sexuality…


Bishops slam David Cameron's welfare reforms

Updated Friday morning

Today’s (Thursday’s) Daily Mirror carries this article by Jason Beattie: 27 bishops slam David Cameron’s welfare reforms as creating a national crisis in unprecedented attack.

The bishops (and other church leaders) have sent this letter to the Daily Mirror.


Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Join us at

It is signed by 27 Anglican bishops (25 Church of England and two Church in Wales), ten Methodist chairs of districts, three United Reformed Church Moderators and two Quakers.

There is already a lot of online news and comment.

The Telegraph
Keith Perry Bishops condemn Government welfare reforms
Matthew Holehouse Clegg hits back at bishops: We spend billions and billions on welfare
Benedict Brogan Church vs State: is David Cameron facing a crusade?
John Bingham and Matthew Holehouse Welby: churches know what they are talking about in benefits warning

The Guardian
Nicholas Watt Bishops blame David Cameron for food bank crisis
Steve Richards Comment is free It’s no wonder David Cameron has alienated the church
Andrew Brown Christian conservatism takes radical position against welfare cuts

BBC News
Church of England bishops demand action over hunger
Clegg hits back at bishops’ welfare reform criticism

Channel 4 News Heat or eat? Church of England bishops’ hunger plea

Financial Times Editorial Britain’s bishops deserve a hearing

Adam Withnall The Independent Britain faces food poverty ‘national crisis’ because of Government welfare reforms, bishops warn

Nick Baines blogs Bashing the bishops

Tim Wyatt Church Times Empty plates: campaigners ask Christians to go hungry


The End Hunger Fast campaign issued this press release: Church leaders call national fast for UK’s hungry as “End Hunger Fast” campaign planned for Lent. The copy of the open letter on their website has slightly fewer signatures than the copy in the Daily Mirror, which may explain the discrepancies in the number of bishops quoted in the press articles.

Helen Warrell and Jim Pickard Financial Times Clergy preach to Cameron on benefit reform

The Guardian
Editorial Food poverty: government in denial
Patrick Butler Families turn to food banks as last resort ‘not because they are free’

Charlotte Leslie MP The Telegraph Haven’t the Bishops heard? Charity begins at home

Daily Mail
Tamara Cohen and Steve Doughty What hunger crisis? Bishops are so wrong on welfare, says Clegg: Deputy PM reacts angrily to claim ‘safety net’ has been removed
Editorial Preaching the sermon according to Labour
Simon Heffer Will the Church ever learn there is nothing moral about welfare dependency?


Statement from some Global South Primates

Statement from the Global South Primates Steering Committee, Cairo, Egypt 14-15 February 2014

The Nigerian representative at the meeting abstained from signing, I have no idea why. The main body of the statement is copied in full below. Emphasis as in original.

Go to the original and scroll down to read an FAQ – The Global South of the Anglican Communion.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).

1. The Global South Primates Steering Committee met at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt from 14-15 February 2014. We were delighted to have The Most Rev. & Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, the Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), and Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, as guests joining this important meeting in which we discussed the way ahead for the Anglican Communion and other matters. The Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya, and The Most Rev. Henri Isingoma, the Primate of Congo, apologized for not being able to attend.

2. We thank God for the times of fellowship, Bible study and prayer together. We also appreciated the frank discussion, open sharing, and spirit of unity among us. We are also encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s emphases on renewal, mission and evangelism within the Church of England and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

3. As we reviewed the current situation, we recognized that the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003. As a result, our Anglican Communion is currently suffering from broken relations, a lack of trust, and dysfunctional “instruments of unity.”

4. However, we trust in God’s promise that the “gates of hades will not overcome” the church. Holding unto this promise, we believe that we have to make every effort in order to restore our beloved Communion. Therefore we took the following decisions:

a) We request and will support the Archbishop of Canterbury to call for a Primates Meeting in 2015 in order to address the increasingly deteriorating situation facing the Anglican Communion. It is important that the agenda of this Primates Meeting be discussed and agreed upon by the Primates beforehand in order to ensure an effective meeting.

b) We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.

c) We realize that the time has come to address the ecclesial deficit, the mutual accountability and re-shaping the instruments of unity by following through the recommendations mentioned in the Windsor Report (2004), the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (2005) and Dar es Salam (2007), and the Windsor Continuation Group report.

5. We appreciate the costly decision of the House of Bishops of the Church of England, as well as the pastoral letter and pastoral guidance of The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Archbishop of York, in regard to the decision of the Westminster Parliament for same-gender marriage. The faithfulness of the Church of England in this regard is a great encouragement to our Provinces, and indeed the rest of the Communion, especially those facing hardships and wars.

6. We stand in solidarity with The Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul and the people of South Sudan and Sudan, calling for the cessation of fighting, an end to violence, and for a process for peace and reconciliation. We call upon the international community to give every help and support to those displaced as a result of fighting. We commit ourselves to pray for the people of Sudan.

7. We were encouraged to learn about the new constitution of Egypt and how the interim government is achieving the roadmap that was decided by its people on the 3 July 2013. We support the people of Egypt in their efforts to combat violence and terrorism.

8. We decided to activate the Task Forces established at the 4th Encounter of the Global South, which are: Economic Empowerment (coordinated by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala), Theological Resourcing (coordinated by Archbishop Bolly Lapok), Emerging Servant Leaders (coordinated by Archbishop Ian Ernest), and Inter-faith Relations (coordinated by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh).

9. We decided to hold the 5th Encounter of the Global South in 2015 and also organize a seminar for Global South leaders on “How Africa shaped Anglicanism”.

This statement is approved by:

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt and Chairman of Global South
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of Global South The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi and the Chairman of CAPA
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, representing the Primate of South East Asia
The Rt. Rev. Francis Loyo, representing the Primate of All Sudan

This statement was abstained by:
The Most Rev. Nkechi Nwosu, representing the Primate of All Nigeria


An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

An article by Linda Woodhead who writes in a personal capacity.

“There will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.” (House of Bishops, 14th Feb 2014, Appendix, para 9)

“For the first time in the history of the Church of England has the law of the State been brought on one specific point into direct, open, overt contrast with and contradiction of the specific and defined law laid down in the authoritative regulations of the National Church.” (Archbishop Randall Davidson, on the passage of the deceased wife’s sister legislation, Hansard, 1907)

The fact that many in the Church of England contested the recension of the Deceased Wife’s Sister Act (1835) until defeated in 1907 sounds ridiculous to us. And that’s the point. What to contemporary generations seems an unsupportable divergence between the law of the land and the Church’s teaching on marriage (the BCP’s Table of Kindred and Affinity in this case) seems a storm in a teacup for later generations for whom it is established social fact.

The same is true of the Church’s long and deep resistance to the remarriage of divorcees. Princess Margaret’s romance was sacrificed on this altar, and within living memory many clergy who sought remarriage were skewered on it, for it was only in 2002 that Church practice finally came into line with civil law. As Dr Robin Ward reminded me yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the (1820) trial of Queen Caroline explained to the House of Lords that although Our Lord allowed remarriage after divorce, the British Constitution wisely forbad it.

This is why Archbishop Lang viewed the 1937 Matrimonial Causes Act, which liberalised divorce, as a serious divergence between English law and church teaching on marriage. He explained his decision not to vote for it by saying that he had come to the conclusion “that it was no longer possible to impose the full Christian standard by law on a largely non-Christian population, but that witness to that standard, and consequent disciplinary action towards its own members or persons who sought to be married by its rites, must be left to the church” (JG Lockhart, Cosmo Gordon Lang, p. 235).

So the fact that the House of Bishops’ statement above is in error matters a great deal. It matters because errors of fact should not occur in a statement of such gravity, and it matters because it reveals a wider mindset amongst the bishops and their advisors which is forgetful of the church’s own history and therefore proverbially condemned to repeat it. The bishops are in a false position because they believe that the scale of the challenge which gay marriage presents to the Church is much greater than it really is. The error speaks of an episcopate closed in on itself, trapped in the present, unwilling to accept advice from experts, and acting out of fear.

“The sky is falling in,” said Chicken Licken. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Davidson. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Lang. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Welby. But this time, hardly anyone believed it.


Women bishops reference to dioceses

Update Wednesday afternoon The links are now all correct.

The papers sent to dioceses for the Article 8 reference regarding women bishops are now available online. This is copied below.

Women bishops reference to dioceses

The Article 8 process regarding women bishops is outlined and explained in a note from the Business Committee of the General Synod. Click here.

The Business Committee has also circulated four other documents: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 1932) which includes the texts of the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (in Annex A) and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations (in Annex B); a background note on the new package of proposals (A8(14)1); the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (A8(14)2); the draft Amending Canon No. 33 (A8(14)3); and an Explanatory Memorandum relating to the draft legislation (A8(14)4).

The General Synod voted on Tuesday 11 February to suspend Standing Order 90 until the end of the Group of Sessions to be held in November 2014. This enables a shortening of the deadline for Diocesan Synods to vote on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. Reporting forms, recording the votes of Diocesan Synods, should be returned to the Clerk to the Synod to arrive by midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014.

A background note produced by the Business Committee in 2010 on the history of the legislative proposals can be viewed by clicking on the link below.



Reactions to the House of Bishops statement – episode 3

Updated Tuesday evening

Previous episodes can be found here, and then over here. And this one has its own article.

New items:

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Love, grace and the bishops’ pastoral guidance

Changing Attitude Colin Coward
Bishop of Blackburn acts on House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement and
Diocese of Lincoln – Ad Clerum about the Pastoral Statement

Bishop of Oxford Bishop of Oxford speaks on Same Sex Marriage statement

Anglican Mainstream
Fidelity, Naivety and Integrity: the C of E House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage by Dermot O’Callaghan and also
Untheological, incoherent, unhelpful – Bishops, think again! by Thurstan Stigand

Peter Ould The Opening Shots


Anglican Mainstream has more items:
Andrew Symes The last six days: the story so far and the implications
Michael Nazir-Ali A Response to the House of Bishops Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage

Law and Religion UK David Pocklington House of Bishops’ Statement on Same-sex Marriage
This contains a detailed analysis of the statement from a legal viewpoint, and is worth reading in full.

Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Christianity CoE Bishops’ Statement on UK Same Sex Marriage – Not Truly “Pastoral” full text below the fold.



Petitioning Bishops of the Church of England

A petition has been initiated on

To rescind their opposition to equal marriage. To take back their recent Pastoral Guidance. To create a Church where all are welcomed.

On Saturday the 15th of February 2014, the bishops of the Church of England released Pastoral Guidance in relation to equal marriage. This document is an attempt on their part to hinder the movement of God’s Spirit in relation to the full inclusion of all God’s children in the Church of England. This document must not go unchallenged. By signing this petition, you are part of the ongoing struggle for change in the Church of England…

At the time of posting this, the petition has reached 2000 signatures.


Forward in Faith: Reference to the Dioceses

Women in the Episcopate: Reference to the Dioceses

The diocesan synods will shortly be voting on the Women in the Episcopate legislation – a draft Measure and a draft Canon.

This legislation forms part of a package which also includes a House of Bishops’ Declaration (containing provisions that will replace Resolutions A and B and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod) and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure, both of which we warmly welcome.

Only the Measure and the Canon will be the subject of formal voting in the diocesan synods. When legislation is referred to the dioceses because it touches the sacraments of the Church, Forward in Faith believes that synod members should give their votes according to principle and conscience. For members of Forward in Faith that is likely to involve voting against the Measure and the Canon because, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. This will be the only opportunity for members of diocesan synods to vote on the principle in accordance with their theological convictions.

We wish to underline that in making this recommendation we are not seeking to hinder progress towards a final resolution of this issue. It is important that this is made clear in diocesan synod debates. We are conscious that at this stage in the process only simple majorities are required.

We were encouraged that, when members of the General Synod voted against the relevant parts of the legislation at the February group of sessions, the fact that they felt obliged to do so as a matter of integrity was widely accepted. We trust that similar understanding will be shown in the diocesan synods.

On behalf of the Council:

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker Dr Lindsay Newcombe The Revd Ross Northing
Chairman Lay Vice-Chairman Clerical Vice-Chairman

17 February 2014


Rwandan bishop in UK faces probe over allegations of role in 1994 genocide

The Observer yesterday carried these two stories by Chris McGreal.

Rwandan priest in UK faces probe over allegations of role in 1994 genocide
How ‘accomplice’ to Rwanda genocide turned up in a rural English pulpit

The first of these begins:

The Church of England is investigating a Rwandan bishop who is now serving as a parish priest in Worcestershire over “disturbing” allegations that he was a propagandist for leaders of his country’s 1994 genocide and complicit in sending Tutsis to their deaths.

The Diocese of Worcester issued this press release in response: Statement in response to allegations about Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza.

Other websites have subsequently published their own articles on this story.

Shari Miller Daily Mail Church of England investigates bishop accused of ‘collaborating’ in Rwandan genocide who is now a parish priest in Worcestershire

Edwin Musoni All Africa Rwanda: UK Church Probes Rwandan Bishop Over 1994 Genocide

A number of other African websites have republished the articles from either The Observer or the Daily Mail.