The Church Times has a news report by Madeleine Davies ‘We face attacks if C of E marriage policy changes’
BISHOPS in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings…
On Tuesday, the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Revd Justin Badi Arama, verified this report. “Gay relationships in the Church of England would mean the people of South Sudan going back to their traditional religions which do not take them to same-sex practice,” said. “Secondly, there would be continued violence against Christians [in the fear] that they would bring bad and shameful behaviour or homosexual practice, and spread it in the communities.”
Any change would lead to a rift, the Bishop of Wau, the Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol, warned on Wednesday. “The Church of England blessing gay marriages will be dangerous for the Church in South Sudan, because people here, like many African countries, strongly oppose gay marriages. And so they would want the Church here to break relationship with the Church of England.
“As a Church, we need to remain united as a body of Christ. We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions, because what affects one part of the body affects the whole body as well.”
Bishop Arama concurred: “As South Sudanese, we very much value the partnership, and all the efforts of the Church of England to support the Church in Sudan during all the difficult moments in our history. Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together.
“It is our prayer that the Church of England should not follow the world into darkness, but lead the world into light.”
But the online version of this story has been updated since the paper edition went to press, with this additional passage, expressing a slightly different view:
On Thursday, the Bishop of Cueibet, the Rt Revd Elijah Matueny Awet, said that, if the Church of England blessed gay relationships, Christians in South Sudan would “go back and worship their traditional beliefs and Gods [rather] than worshipping the true God. . . Islam will grow rapidly in South Sudan because of the pagan believing on same-sex marriage.”
He argued, however, that it would not lead to reprisals in South Sudan, which would take a different path to that pursued in the West.
“We have been described by English people and American that we are a rude community . . . The question now, is who is rude now? Is it the one who is claiming his or her right? The one who is forcing people to accept his behavior?”
The leader column, which is behind the paywall, includes the following comment:
…But gay people are victims, too, and Archbishop Welby’s comments on LBC (News) involved the Church of England in their plight. It is unfair to accuse him, as some have, of allowing the C of E’s policy on same-sex marriage to be dictated by evil men. The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them. It is an agonising situation, felt keenly by the Archbishop, despite his ambivalence, to put it no more strongly, on the subject of same-sex relationships.
For all that, it is unlikely that the Church of England’s restraint will be matched by the murderous militias in Sudan, the DRC, and elsewhere. It assumes an unlikely degree of patience and sophistication on the part of the gunmen to suppose that they might understand the nature of the Church’s relationship with the state, its tolerance of principled dissent among its clergy, and the lack of a juridical bond between the different provinces of the Communion. The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa, the Middle East, and countries such as China…
Updated Thursday evening
The Archbishop of Canterbury is this week visiting Canada and the USA.
See Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Anglicans in Canada and the USA
From Canada, the Anglican Journal reports: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks. An extract:
…Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?
A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.
Q: So what exactly were you saying?
A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing…
The Anglican Journal also reports Welby & Hiltz discuss issues of sexuality, reconciliation
When Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, he was “very interested” in the work of the Anglican Church of Canada’s commission on the marriage canon because of the reality that the Church of England will have to wrestle with the issue of same-sex marriage following its legislation in the U.K.
“Notwithstanding the declared position of the Church of England at this moment, he [Welby] is very conscious, of course, that there’s going to be a fair amount of pressure from within the Church of England to at least have some discussion around that [same-sex marriage],” said Hiltz in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “He hoped that we would stay in touch over the work of the commission, [because] inside the Church of England, they will need to have the same conversation.”
Welby was also very interested in the issue of reconciliation as it relates to the history of the Canadian church’s relations with indigenous people and its involvement in the Indian Residential School System. “As he said now, in the Church of England, things are coming to light in terms of abuse in church schools…they’re kind of at that early stage,” and Welby wanted to know how the Canadian church responded. “They’re compelled [to respond] and they will not stand in anyone’s way,” said Hiltz, adding that Welby was interested in the church’s 1993 apology to former residential school students for the harm and pain inflicted through the schools.
On the issue of the marriage canon, Hiltz said Welby was “very appreciative” that the commission will conduct a broad consultation across the Anglican Communion and with its ecumenical partners on the matter of changing the Canadian Anglican church’s marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage…
The archbishop then moved to Oklahoma, where he delivered this speech: Archbishop Justin’s speech at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference, Oklahoma, USA
…During the news conference, Welby noted that he had made similar comments in the past and that he was trying to say that “at its heart is the issue that we’re a global church.”
“The Anglican Communion is a global church. And that wherever we speak, whether it’s here or in Africa, or in Asia or in any of the 143 countries in which we are operating, in which there are Anglicans, we never speak exclusively to ourselves but we speak in a way that is heard widely around the world,” he said. “And so the point I was making, because the question was essentially about why don’t we just go ahead and do gay marriages, we have a profound disagreement within the Church of England about the right thing to do, whether to perform gay marriages or have blessing of same sex marriages where the marriage has taken place in the civil system.”
Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29. Parliament by a comfortable majority passed The Marriage (Same-sex Couples Act) in July 2013.
The Church of England is “starting two years of facilitated conversation about this and we are not going simply to jump to a conclusion, to preempt that conversation in any direction at all but we need to spend time listening to each other, listening to the voices around the communion,” Welby said.
The example he gave during the call-in program of his experience at the site of the mass grave “was of a particular example some years back which had had a great impact on my own thinking,” he said during the news conference…
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published detailed guidance to explain the equality and human rights implications of this legislation. The guidance covers 5 main areas: the law; public authorities; the workplace and service delivery; religious organisations; and school education.
The material can all be found via this page.
Law & Religion UK has published an article summarising the key points.2 Comments
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has issued a statement on this. As Law & Religion UK reports (scroll down):
St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society and the EHRC
On 28 March the Equality and Human Rights Commission issued a statement on the successful appeal by St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society to the Scottish Charities Appeal Panel against the direction of the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator. The nub of the statement (downloadable from here) is as follows:
“The EHRC notes that OSCR has now decided not to appeal the SCAP decision. The EHRC has no locus to appeal the decision itself, as only OSCR and the relevant charity have a right of appeal. The EHRC has however carefully considered the SCAP decision as it relates to discrimination law. The decision is not easy to follow, but it is the EHRC’s view that SCAP is mistaken in its understanding of the meaning of direct and indirect discrimination.
The Commission has carefully noted SCAP’s finding of fact, based on evidence provided by St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society during the hearing of the appeal, that: “In principle [St Margaret’s Children and Family Service] would consider an application to be considered as adoptive parents from a couple in a civil partnership.”
The Commission has therefore written to St Margaret’s advising it to ensure that its published policies and practices properly reflect its stated position that adoption applications from couples in civil partnerships will be considered in the same way as those from married couples; and to ensure that such applications are indeed considered equally. This will give gay couples wishing to adopt the confidence that they will be treated without unlawful discrimination”.
And Law & Religion UK adds the following comment:
The EHRC is obviously entitled to its opinion, though we wonder about the propriety of an agency of Government criticising a judicial decision: separation of powers, anyone? More fundamentally, the statement does prompt us to ask why, if SCAP got the law so wrong, OSCR didn’t appeal. And the only obvious answer that comes to mind is that OSCR is a lot less sure of its ground than the EHRC appears to be.
Updated Monday evening
Here are two articles which are supportive of the line taken by Archbishop Justin Welby on Friday:
Ian Paul has written What did Justin Welby say about gays and violence in Africa?
Andrew Goddard has written a long article The Archbishop, Gay Marriage and Violence: What are the issues?
The latter goes on to consider in some detail how the issues raised in the interview should be considered in the event that the Church of England, as a result of the “post-Pilling conversations” does eventually decide to make some change in its present official positions.
Here are two more articles:62 Comments
Two more diocesan synods have voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation: Blackburn on Thursday and Southwell & Nottingham today. In each case the vote was in favour. 27 diocesan synods have now voted in favour and none against.
The next vote is in Worcester on 30 April.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.26 Comments
Updated again Sunday 6 pm
Andrew Brown has written at CiF belief Welby’s argument against gay marriage has strength. But we can’t yield to moral blackmail
…Archbishops are not supposed to be Peter Singer-style utilitarians. And it seems to me that there are two things wrong with the Welby position from the point of view of Christian ethics. The first is surely that, while we have the right to make our own decisions about whether or not to yield to moral blackmail, we have no right to make them for other adults.
You might object that an archbishop is there to make decisions for other people, so different rules apply. But he is also there to set an example. And this leads to the second Christian objection to this kind of blackmail. Christians are called on to do what is right, and to trust that God will bring good out of it even if evil immediately follows. Failing to do what you believe is right is, in some lights, a kind of blasphemy.
Welby does not, in fact, believe in gay marriage, so he’s off that particular hook. And he has already said enough in favour of gay people to disgust the Ugandan and Nigerian churches. I don’t think you can accuse him of cowardice on this issue, even if he’s wrong…
…I do not doubt Justin Welby’s experience. As noted in a previous blog post I have lived in a country which criminalizes homosexuality. Changing Attitude and other organizations have consistently flagged up how very dangerous it is to be gay in the majority world.
In this blog post I want to examine the underlying logic of the Archbishop’s claims and question and problematize them. I apologize if my reasoning seems blunt and crude. I am currently fasting as part of EndHungerFast and my mind is not working at full tilt. Equally, I am very open to comments which help sharpen up my thinking in this area…
Susan Russell Archbishop of Canterbury chooses pathetic over prophetic
Claire George has an article which in addition to her comments includes a transcript of part of the broadcast: [Opinion] What did Justin Welby say about Africa and Gay people?
The Bishop of California, Marc Andrus wrote A word on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statements
Kelvin Holdsworth You condemn it, Archbishop
This article is by the person who asked the archbishop the question that generated so much coverage of the programme: Rebel Rev lives up to her name
…I managed to get out just in time and asked the Archbishop the last question of the show. In a nutshell I was asking why, as priests, we couldn’t bless same sex couples and use our own conscience like happened when the remarriage of divorcees came about in church. This could be the case while we waited for a synodical process to go through that could change the rules to allow equal marriage in church.
I was shocked and saddened by Justin’s response. Much has been publicised and blogged about Justin’s answer by theologians and people far and wide in the Anglican Communion. As the person who asked the question and a bog standard priest in the Church of England I feel extremely let down by my institution and the Archbishop. He said that we couldn’t move forward with a more liberal agenda in the UK without it having a devastating effect on people in Africa. He told a story about standing at a mass grave and had been told the people were killed because of the liberal changes in America. That’s like wondering why a woman in a violent relationship who is murdered didn’t leave, instead of asking the murderer why he killed her. Violence always needs to be condemned. The Archbishop didn’t do this. Murder and homophobia are the issues, not liberalism in the UK. Can you imagine what would have happened if Gandhi had given in to the violence and not challenged the marginalisation and oppression at the salt mines? How different would the world be if Wilberforce wasn’t listened to because the slaves might have been further abused? What would have happened if the civil rights movement hadn’t progressed because people were scared of the violence of the KKK? Women are killed and maimed today because they are being educated. Just ask Malala. Does that mean we shouldn’t educate girls? Apartheid was atrocious in its outpouring of violence. Should we not have campaigned because more black people would have been killed? What Justin said put the power in the hands of the oppressors and those who wield violence.
Let’s be clear, it’s not only Africa that kills people because of homophobia. I live in London, a very cosmopolitan city, yet my neighbour was killed in a homophobic attack. I had a friend who took his own life because he couldn’t cope with coming to terms with his sexuality in the face of homophobia from his family, friends and church. There are many people hurt and trapped by homophobia and a lack of acceptance in the UK…
Archdruid Eileen offers us Do not Feed the Organist and other useful signs.
Gillan Scott of God & Politics in the UK asks Where will we be in 2024? – Setting out a vision for the future of the Church.
Ben Martin blogs about Experiencing a Bishops Advisory Panel Rejection.
Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph: Bach and the icon of Jesus’s face.3 Comments
Updated Sunday morning
A full transcript of the broadcast is now available: ARCHBISHOP’S PHONE-IN ON LBC RADIO: TRANSCRIPT.
Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop answers questions on LBC radio phone-in
Archbishop Justin spent an hour answering questions on LBC’s radio phone-in this morning, tackling topics ranging from same-sex marriage to the nature of God.
Listen again to the full programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGdBTMx1Vgo.
LBC Radio has this: Archbishop: Gay Marriage Could Mean Murder Of Christians. Embedded in that page is a six-minute clip of the part of the interview that is attracting the most media attention.
And also this: Archbishop Confronted by Angry Ann Widdecombe.
Guardian Andrew Brown African Christians will be killed if C of E accepts gay marriage, says Justin Welby
Church Times Madeleine Davies Welby links gay marriage with African killings
Anglican Communion News Service Abp Welby: Anglican Communion sexuality decisions can mean African Christians suffer47 Comments
Today’s Church Times contains a substantial article by him entitled Gender: what difference does it really make?
SAME-SEX marriage has come to England and Wales, and in response Churches are invoking the term “complementarity”. Before using a word, we should think about it carefully. What might complementarity actually look like, in either same- or opposite-sex relationships?
I should like to offer some philosophical tools for thinking it through. Philosophy need not lead us into abstraction, but can help us to understand real lives and relationships. I also want to consider how complementarity features in marriage: not so much, here, within a marriage, but – more provocatively – between different kinds of marriage…
His recent book Why Sacraments? also contains some material on same-sex marriage.1 Comment
Somewhere buried beneath the readings pressed into the service of Mothering Sunday last week, are another set for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. In any given year these readings get obscured by the dust generated by the stampede to pay homage to a festival shaped more by the greetings card industry than the ways of God.
This year the Lent 4 gospel was the account of a blind man being healed in the fourth gospel. A blind man encounters Jesus. Typically, the man’s religious or faith credentials are not known, they are irrelevant. Jesus meets him at a point of need and heals him, although we are later told that this happened on the Sabbath, when religious law forbids any acts of work. God, Jesus says, is glorified when people are met at their point of need.
The man, having recovered his sight, is understandably jubilant and people marvel at his transformation. He is brought to the religious authorities. The man identifies his healer, but the authorities claim that this man could not have effected a healing, as he does not have the right religious credentials and in fact is a doubtful character. This is a more firmly held truth than the evidence of the man looking right back at them. Maybe he wasn’t born blind, but his parents are brought to witness that he was. The man is asked again, in order to have the opportunity to tell the story in a way that fits with religious authority, and he can’t. There is even a twist in the conversation when the man suggests that the religious authorities become Jesus’s followers.
For those of us who belong to formal religious organisations, and especially we who hold positions of leadership, there is a constant temptation to allow religious truth-claims to surround the place where we believe God to be, and we become the gatekeepers to this place. It sounds absurd if it is stated as baldly as that, yet it is one of the risks we run when we set up an organisation in the name of God: the interests of the organisation can quickly eclipse the interests of God.
Only recently, a colleague of mine, knowing that God is glorified when people are met at their point of need, wanted to transform the nave of their church into a night-shelter for the homeless. You can easily imagine the heated debates in their church council about the building as a heritage monument, about the risk of vandalism, about health and safety considerations and, of course, the very ready but unstated fear of being polluted by contact with the unclean.
When I was first taught the fourth gospel at university, our tutor insisted that it was written that way for the stage. Reading this story I can readily envisage the comic effect of a man clearly in receipt of the intervention of God, being denied by the authorities who claim that they alone are the ones to adjudicate authentic divine activity. The message is a salutary one for those of us running religious organisations. We need constantly to be brought back to the question of how we glorify the God we believe in. How is our organisation configured to do that? Is there anything we value more highly than doing this work of God, of meeting humanity at its point of need? If there is, whose glory is it serving?
Even in this late part of Lent, we are being asked the questions which will help root out what keeps us from doing what we claim we are called to do.
Andrew Spurr is Vicar of Evesham in the diocese of Worcester1 Comment
The report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
The Ma Whea? report and a précis are available.
Ma Whea? Report and précis
The above document includes a report from the Doctrine Commission, which is also available separately.
Doctrine Commission Report and précis
And there is this article on the Anglican Taonga website.
Ma Whea? Report released
The long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released.
TAONGA NEWS | 04 APR 2014
The long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released.
The report, which is the fruit of 15 months’ work by five eminent New Zealand citizens, lists 10 options to inform the General Synod debate at Waitangi next month.
The options range from a more conservative statement about who can be blessed and ordained (ie a firmer statement than the canons now prescribe) through various degrees of change and liberalisation.
The options are:
Option A: Affirming Traditional Understanding
Option B: Preserving Present Circumstances
Option C: Bishops to Determine What Equals Right Relationships
Option D: Delegate to Diocesan Synods/Te Runanganui Power to Determine Right Relationships
Option E: Adopt a New Understanding
Option F: The Anglican Church Having Two Views
Option G: Dual Episcopacy
Option H: Planned Dismembering
Option I: Anglican Church to Add a New Rite of Blessing by Priests of Those in a Same Sex Relationship.
Option J: Adopt a Two Year Period of Focussed Discussion within Church Communities with a View to Making a Decision in (say) 2016
(These options are unpacked in a precis here. The unedited options can be read in the Ma Whea Commission report, which can be downloaded below. The list of options begins on P38.)
Ma Whea Report_2 final.pdf 1.43 MB
It is also important to note that none of these pathways is recommended – because in the words of Michael Hughes, this church’s General Secretary, “that is rightly a decision for the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui to make.”
The Ma Whea Commission (full title: Ma Whea?:Mei Fe Ki Fe?: Where To? Anglican General Synod Commission on same gender blessings and ordinations) was chaired by Sir Anand Satyanand, a lawyer who served as judge and ombudsman before being appointed as New Zealand’s 19th Governor General.
His fellow commissioners were Dame Judith Potter (a High Court Judge), Emeritus Professor Sir Tamati Reedy (Educationist), Mrs Mele Taliai (a Tonga New Zealander lawyer) and Professor Paul Trebilco (Professor of New Testament Studies).
The Ma Whea? Commission Report summarises 199 submissions on the ordination and blessing of people in same-sex relationships.
It summarises the biblical and theological work done by our church from the missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral points of view. And in the light of Anglican ecclesiology, it considers ways forward.
The Ma Whea? report contains a number of appendices – including another significant and long-awaited piece of work, the report of the Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions.
This Commission was asked by the General Synod Standing Committee to look into the theological rationale for the possible blessing and marriage of people in permanent, faithful same-gender relationships.
“This report,” says Michael Hughes, “contains a full and robust theological rationale to support such blessings and marriages – and a thorough and equally robust assessment of that rationale, including a rebuttal of certain aspects.”
It does not recommend a position of this church on these matters. That too, says Michael Hughes, “is rightly the responsibility of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui.”
(A precis of the Doctrine Commission report can be read here. The full report begins on P62 of the appendices to the Ma Whea? Report)
The Ma Whea? Commission was set up before the New Zealand Parliament passed its marriage equality legislation, and the Commission’s terms of reference were not changed to take account of that.
The Doctrine Commission, on the other hand, did its work in the wake of the law change, and it considers a theological rationale for the marriage of people in permanent, faithful same-gender relationships.
The Doctrine Commission’s full report can be downloaded below:
Doctrine Commission.pdf 876.81 kB
The GSSC commends both the Ma Whea? and Doctrine Commission reports to the church for prayerful consideration and discussion.
And through its General Secretary it has expressed “its deep gratitude to the members of both Commissions, for the extensive work they have undertaken to produce these two careful and comprehensive pieces of scholarship, which deserve to have profound and far-reaching impact on the life of the church.”9 Comments
updated Thursday and Saturday
The Church in Wales has published some of the papers for next month’s meeting of its Governing Body, including three under the heading Same Sex Marriages.
The main paper is a report by the Standing Doctrinal Commission entitled The Church in Wales & Same Sex Partnerships. There is also an Executive Summary of the report. The executive summary is reproduced below the fold.
Finally there is a Procedural Note explaining how the Governing Body will have an initial discussion of the report at its meeting in April.
The procedural note referred to a number of background papers from the Standing Doctrinal Commission. These are now available.
Marriage as a Sacrament
Sexuality and the Image of God
The concept of Flourishing in Relation to Marriage as a Good, and the Question of Gay Partnerships
Same Sex Marriage – Biblical Considerations
Fundamental Scriptural Approaches
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has published this useful article: Same-sex partnerships and the Church in Wales.14 Comments
The Archbishops’ Council has issued this press release:
Archbishops’ Council hearing on home for Bishop of Bath and Wells
31 March 2014
The Archbishops’ Council has appointed a committee to hear an objection raised by the Bishop’s Council of the Diocese of Bath and Wells to a Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence of the diocesan bishop.
The committee will meet at the Palace in Wells from 28-29 April. It will consider the grounds of objection, and all relevant circumstances, to the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the bishop’s residence from the Palace in Wells to The Old Rectory in Croscombe. It is for the Commissioners to satisfy the committee that the objection should not be upheld. If it fails to do so then the move will not go ahead.
The committee members are all members of the Archbishops’ Council; Mrs Mary Chapman (Chair), Mr Philip Fletcher and the Venerable Cherry Vann.
The committee will visit both the Palace and the proposed new house in Croscombe and hear evidence from the Bishop’s Council and the Church Commissioners. Both parties may call witnesses. It has also invited the new Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the Chapter of Wells Cathedral and the Palace Trust to make representations. The meeting will not be open to the public.
The Archbishops’ Council is required under the regulations relating to section 7 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009 to hear the objection. It is the first time that an objection has been raised under Section 7.
The decision of the committee is final and the decision and full reasons will be announced at an agreed date, to be confirmed, after the meeting.
Benny Hazlehurst has written Why the Bishops have got it wrong…
As the first same-sex marriages are conducted in England and Wales, much of the country is celebrating with the happy couples, but there are a significant group of LGB&T people who are being excluded from that joy by the Church of England.
The Bishops’ Valentine’s Day guidance on same-sex marriage was a shock to the vast majority of LGB&T clergy in the Church of England.
While apparently being magnanimous to lay people who get married to someone of the same gender, offering ‘pastoral provision’ for informal prayers and full access to the sacraments, the guidance also prohibited existing clergy in same-sex partnerships from getting married and said that it would not ordain anyone in a same-sex marriage.
At the stroke of a pen, it reintroduced a prohibition on marriage for some priests in the CofE, opened the gates to ecclesiastical guerrilla warfare in dioceses, and further distanced the House of Bishops from a substantial proportion of their clergy and people, not to mention the population at large…
The House of Commons held a Westminster Hall debate on Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England) recently. The Hansard transcript is available here, and there is a video recording here.
WATCH issued this press release:
Westminster Hall Debate: Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England). Thursday 20 March
“I hope our debate has sent a message to the 4,200 ordained women that we greatly value what they do. The Church of England needs to embrace the gifts that men and women bring”, Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden.
WATCH congratulates Caroline Spelman MP and other Members of Parliament for taking part in the Westminster Hall debate on the role of ordained women in the Church of England over the past 20 years. Ordained women across the country will be affirmed to hear the many appreciative comments made on their contribution within Church and Society that has ensured that the priestly role has become “Transformational”. We hope all ordained women will welcome the recognition given in the debate that their work and ministry now seen as, “a valued, valuable and wonderful part of church life”. WATCH also concurs with the comment that much still needs to be done to ensure that the glass ceiling does not remain in place.
In the debate hope was expressed that the proposed legislation coming before the General Synod in July will go through. We welcome the assurance given by the Second Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, that all efforts will be made for the Measure to be fully properly considered, approved and passed into law well before Christmas. Sir Tony also offered the hope that we will see the first women bishops consecrated shortly thereafter.
We appreciated his reading from the New Testament showing the loyalty of the women who stood witness to Christ’s crucifixion, and how Mary Magdalene was the one sent to the disciples to tell of his resurrection. In this context, we welcome and fully endorse his comment that the last 20 years have demonstrated that women priests are well able to proclaim the risen Christ throughout the land. By their ministry they have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to the life of the Church, community and country.
WATCH welcomes the appreciation of its long years of campaigning work, together with those supporters in Deanery, Diocesan and General Synods who wish to see women enter the Episcopate.
We concur with the commendation of The Archbishop of Canterbury for the “urgent and effective manner” in which he has worked for the new legislation since his appointment.
Sally Barnes coordinator of the WATCH Parliamentary Task Force said,
“WATCH would like to thank those Members of Parliament who took part in this debate for the many affirming comments made from their personal contacts with ordained women. We are all heartened to know that after so long the value and worth of their vocations have been so emphatically recognised, along with their spiritual, pastoral insights and gifts. We look forward to the same recognition being given to those women who will be appointed as bishops and to the time when the Church of England will have finally broken the stained glass ceiling of discrimination. Then we, with so many others, will rejoice fully.”
Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail reported that Church is ‘running out of men to be bishops’: Labour MP uses debate on women being consecrated to says Anglican talent pool is drying up.21 Comments
WATCH and GRAS have welcomed the approval of the women in the episcopate legislation by a majority of diocesan synods.
WATCH issued this press release.
WATCH encouraged by Diocesan Synod support for new women bishops legislation
Over the weekend five more diocesan synods met and voted, overwhelmingly in favour, on the new women bishops legislation. 25 dioceses have now voted and agreed on the legislation meaning it can now be returned back to General Synod in July 2014 for final approval.
Adding all the votes together for the 25 dioceses which have now voted gives a 94% majority, compared with a 77% majority from the votes of all 44 dioceses for the previous legislation in 2011.
Hilary Cotton, chair of WATCH said, “We are hugely encouraged by the voting so far. In almost all the dioceses a mere handful of laypeople have voted against the legislation. With this extraordinarily high level of support, I cannot see any rationale that General Synod members might use to explain a second defeat in July. “
GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) issued this press release yesterday.
Diocesan support for Women in the Episcopate
GRAS is delighted that the proposed legislation to enable women to be bishops has now received the support of the majority of the 44 Dioceses of the Church of England. So far the total number of Dioceses in favour of the legislation has reached 25 with none against. The measure now has the support required for General Synod to consider it for final approval when it meets in July. The remaining Dioceses are all meeting before the end of May and we expect them to give the measure the same level of support.
With such a strong mandate from the Diocesan Synods, which represent the ‘people in the pews’ of the Church of England, the General Synod would re-open serious questions about its fitness for purpose if it were to fail to give final approval to this measure in July.
GRAS hopes and prays that this legislation will receive final approval this year and make it possible for the first woman Bishop to be appointed in the Church of England as early as this year. However, we must be aware that this legislation will not bring about full equality between women and men in the Church of England, and there will remain a lot of work to be done in the legislation, structures and culture of the church before that day comes.