Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops' pastoral letter – reports and comments

Updated Tuesday evening and Wednesday

Tim Wyatt Church Times House of Bishops calls for a new politics ahead of election

Esther Addley The Guardian Church of England calls for ‘fresh moral vision’ in British politics

BBC News Church of England urges ‘fresh moral vision’ from politicians
Church of England: Public should ‘ask the big questions’

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England calls for a ‘new direction’ in British Politics

John Bingham The Telegraph Bishops vow to take on ‘sex appeal’ of Russell Brand’s ‘don’t vote’ message
John Bingham and Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph Thatcherism is finished – declares Church of England

Nigel Morris The Independent Russell Brand’s ‘sex appeal’ will deter voters, the Church of England says

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Bishops’ Pastoral Statement: 2015 General Election

Nick Baines Bishops and politics

Malcolm Brown (Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England) blogs: Who is my Neighbour?


Aisha Gani The Guardian Church of England bishops’ pastoral letter: key points

The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the church and the election: talking sense

Kiran Stacey and Barney Thompson Financial Times Church of England rebukes political parties for lack of vision

Anoosh Chakelian New Statesman How the Church wants you to vote

James Kirkup and Tim Stanley The Telegraph Does the Church have a place in politics?

Symon Hill Ekklesia The bishops’ election letter is mild, not radical

Further update

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Tories and the Church: the 30-year war continues

Archbishop Cranmer “Tory Fury” over Church of England letter is a confected Tory tantrum

Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph Church of England campaigning for EU integration

Giles Fraser The Guardian The bishops have a point: our politics is stale and unambitious

Michael White The Guardian C of E’s naive intervention in politics prompts fierce storm in a teacup

Steven Swinford The Telegraph Iain Duncan Smith mocks Church of England’s ‘dwindling relevence’

Nick Spencer Theos Burning bishops’ fingers

Jonathan Chaplin KLICE ‘Who is my neighbour?’ – the Church of England finds a new political voice (also republished on Fulcrum)


  • Stevie Gamble says:

    I had not read the House of Bishops’ pastoral letters before I wrote:

    ‘I refuse to be silent about the awful realities being brushed aside, and I see no way in which anyone who cares about those millions of destroyed lives would wish to join a Church which seems to have forgotten that we must love our neighbours…’

    in the follow up discussions on the Green debacle.

    It is thus particularly ironic that the Bishops have demonstrated, once again, their studious refusal to face up to the awful realities which they do not even mention, much less condemn, whilst urging us to reconnect with the idea of loving our neighbours.

    Whilst I personally would urge everyone to exercise the democratic rights which our fellow citizens have fought and died for, I suspect that Russel Brand’s views on money laundering for drug cartels and human traffickers are rather more robust than those of the House of Bishops. The PR campaign promises to be interesting…

  • Jean Mayland (Revd) says:

    Read the Times Leader today on the Bishops Report.It is excellent. A pity it is behind a pay barrier

  • John says:

    Not everything is wrong with the Church of England. The Ash Wednesday evening Eucharist at Durham Cathedral was wonderfully moving and sobering.

  • Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente says:

    Irrespective of the political leanings of the opinions expressed in the document, I do look forward to a 54p long government critique of the way the national church is led by its current episcopate, but then our bishops would shout blue murder. I’m not saying Christians have no place in public debate, but the constant, negative commenting of bishops pretending to speak in the name of a synodically (one l or two?) governed church is beginning to grate. Are we so much better an organisation than the world we constantly bash?

  • Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente says:

    And bishops should have the humility to acknowledge that they are not elected before they lecture democracies, or at least be ready to look at their appointment system, clouded in much greater mystery than parliamentary proceedings.

  • Jill Armstead says:

    John – Ash Wednesday liturgy at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham likewise: there are some very good things about the Church of England but I don’t count that ‘pastoral letter’ as one of them.

  • Jane Charman says:

    I have just read Who is my Neighbour and it is excellent. Really hope people will find time to read it – it is 120 short paragraphs and the print is quite large! Or if you can’t do that there is a text box on each page with a summary. Other people have also produced useful summaries. I haven’t yet had a chance to read any of the commentary on the report.

    The report is genuinely not party political although it obviously cannot pretend that all political parties believe and say the same thing. It is very well written – do we know who actually penned it? If I had one criticism it might be to ask whether it is as realistic about the electorate as it is about those elected. We are not a righteous and fair minded electorate ill served by our politicians. I think many politicians of all parties would be glad to speak out in the terms of this report but are well aware that the electorate would not digest or tolerate such a bold message. So they compromise – and we get the government we deserve. My hope for this report is that we might use it to hold one another to account as much as those standing in the next election.

    The report also helps me understand why I have been made so profoundly uneasy by the ‘Green’ report which although well intentioned and asking all the right questions about an important subject nevertheless seems to fall short in its conclusions of the vision set out in Who is my Neighbour. Concerns include: too much power in too few hands, lack of accountability, and unequal distribution of resources, all themes picked up in the report. The idea that if we lavishly resource a few top people the benefit will trickle down to others has been tried many times and found wanting. I think we do have to ask how it happened that the ‘Green’ report struck the keynotes it did and why it is out of kilter with much of what the Church of England is trying to say elsewhere. It is easy to point to the emblematic presence of Lord Green himself as the person after whom the report is named but he didn’t actually write it. So the question remains for me: how did a vein of thinking which is not typical of the Church of England and off message in significant ways find its way into this one report, despite the presence on the group of four excellent bishops in whom I otherwise have the fullest confidence.

  • Jill Armstead says:

    In what way, Jane Charman, is the government lavishly resourcing a few top people?

  • Martin Reynolds says:

    I too found it good, as others say elsewhere it is missing a profound human rights approach, but then its institutional life is so corrupted by its power structures, attachment to priveledge, preference for the rich, promoting inequality with titles and pay grades and of course it’s discrimination against the poor, ill educated, disabled, women yet alone its racism and open hatred towards lgbti people would make this difficult.

    I have little praise however for the information policy and management of the CofE. Lately, and despite more aparant professionalism, there has been disaster after disaster in delivery of the message.
    I think this document in this form is a huge mistake.
    What it should be is six five minute videos. One issued weekly as the the election campaign moves forward.
    There might be written material to cover and support the videos.

    This would, in my opinion, do a variety of useful things, and keep the church at the heart of the campaign for more than just a week.

  • Martin Reynolds says:

    And Archbishop Cranmer revelation that No 10 leaked it to the Telegraph and his analyses of their coverage, even weaving in HSBC is good copy!
    Sometimes His Grace is very good.

  • David Runcorn says:

    I fully agree with you Jane. There is a connection here and I too find it disturbing. In this respect the Green Report is a symptom not a solution. There is a more careful diagnosis needed – and this is not normally done by those needing the examination in the first place and who then resist seeking second (or third) opinions.

  • Savi Hensman says:

    While the Church of England leadership has many flaws, the letter is a response to a situation which many find deeply alarming.

    Statistics may seem dry, e.g. half a million people turning to food banks for help in the six months from April-September 2014, the number of people in paid work who need housing benefit soaring from 650,561 in May 2010 to 1.03 million by the end of 2013, the proportion of people aged 65 and over receiving social care falling from 15.3% in 2005/6 to just 9.1% this year, while the UK’s richest 1,000 people have doubled their wealth in the five years. But there are human tragedies involved, like that of Mark Wood in Oxfordshire, who had his benefits taken away despite severe mental health problems and starved to death. If the institutional church waited until it was near-perfect itself before speaking out on any injustice, this would do little to help those currently suffering and prevent things from getting even worse.

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