Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 June 2022

Giles Fraser UnHerd Will bishops stop the Rwanda plan?

Sharon Jagger ViaMedia.News Time for the Church to Take Transparency Seriously

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Bishops Speaking Out: So Very Right and So Very Wrong

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Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
18 days ago

I agree with Giles Fraser. The disestablishment of the Church of England should not be countenanced. He makes a good point, though, that the leaders of the Church should try to speak for many sections of society, not only the ‘liberal left’. That takes sustained care. For example, there are legitimate and understandable concerns some people may have about scale of migration, and societal changes in some people’s communities. The Church can’t just ignore those concerns. With regard to Rwanda, I believe the very specific letter on this very specific issue was both appropriate and necessary. Bullies always pick on… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Susannah Clark
18 days ago

This complaint about the Rwanda scheme is unconvincing, at least to me. If people want to come here because of “roots [or] family”, they can apply under the immigration system. The scheme does not apply to those who have done so. If instead they seek asylum, those desires are not engaged (the issue is a place of safety); nor is the distance of Rwanda from the UK. Comparison with real or hypothetical displacement of people from their own homes is not in point. The fact that people are coming in boats from a safe country, in which they did not… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Andrew
17 days ago

Is it really so hard to understand that people are going to feel safer in a place where they can be surrounded by language and culture and people that they are familiar with? We are talking about a very small minority of refugees who seek to come to Britain. To me it seems like a no-brainer that if I were ever forced to flee the UK I’d want to head to (say) New Zealand in preference to France, despite the latter being closer, because I speak the language and have cultural ties, not to mention friends, in the former. And… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
17 days ago

As you say, Jo, it’s a no brainer, and common sense.

It’s also basic human kindness.

Why would Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans (for example) want to be deposited in Rwanda… muslims in an alien and religiously Christian country, where they know zero people, have zero family, and where they very obviously do not want to go?

All to make Boris look ‘tough’ on immigration, and give Priti more chance in any future leadership contest.

I’m not saying this as a party political statement. Just as a matter of humanity.

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

Susannah, you say “Why would Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans (for example) want to be deposited in Rwanda… muslims in an alien and religiously Christian country…?” You do realise, don’t you, that that is an argument for saying that Muslims should seek asylum in Islamic countries, rather than in Europe, which is not a continent of Muslim tradition? There has been a huge outpouring of patronising comments towards Rwanda from those on the left in Britain over the last couple of weeks as a result of this story, something pointed out by the Anglican Archbishop of Kigali a couple of days… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Mark
16 days ago

The point I was making, Mark, and Maud, was that sending people, against their will, to a country where they have zero connections, zero family, is just plain wrong. The issue of muslim people being sent to a predominantly Christian country was mentioned simply to point out that that is yet another point of disconnect. If people *want* to come to a (multi-faith) country like the UK where muslim people are a (substantial and well-established) minority, that is something they weigh up, along with other factors like any relatives, ability to speak the default language, other connections. My main observation… Read more »

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
16 days ago

But the point you make is that it is more sensible for people to go where they are most likely to integrate well. You list Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. All three are Muslim majority societies (I know of course plenty of Syrians and some Iraqis are not Muslims) and Arabic-speaking. So of course the places they will best integrate into are other Muslim-majority Arabic-speaking nations, are they not? Bringing people to the UK, right on the other side of another continent from their own, dropping them into a massive and ever-growing disconnected urban underclass cannot be the solution. And all… Read more »

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Susannah Clark
16 days ago

If you travel to any other country requiring a visa and outstay your welcome, the authorities have every right to deport you against your will. The Rwanda policy is no different in that respect.

What’s different is that instead of being sent back to the country from which you originated – because that would be obviously wrong if you genuinely were seeking asylum – you would be safely flown out to a carefully selected country, where you would be properly looked after and free from war or persecution.

That’s where the Christian values reside.

Last edited 16 days ago by Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Susannah Clark
16 days ago

You could turn that argument on its head by recalling that Priti Patel’s own parents arrived legally from Uganda to be “deposited” in an equally “alien and religiously Christian country” where they knew no one. Her roots span three continents. When the UK left the EU, we took back control of our immigration policy – in so far as legal routes of entry are concerned – by opting out of freedom of movement. Since then, the drop in those arriving from Europe has been compensated for by an increase in those arriving from the Commonwealth. The Rwanda policy is clearly… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Maud Colthwaite
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
16 days ago

Except that Britain was not an “alien and religiously Christian country” when Priti Patel’s parents arrived here. There was already a significant Hindu Gujarati-speaking community. A community moreover which has continued to enrich our nation’s life.

Last edited 16 days ago by Allan Sheath
Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Allan Sheath
15 days ago

Yes, but my basic point is that Rwanda is a peaceful, democratic, Anglophone Commonwealth country which has come a long way since the tragedy of 1994 and eager to overcome an outmoded, essentialist view of it.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
15 days ago

Rwanda has had the same President for 22 years (elected most recently in 2017 with more than 98% of the vote i.e. Saddam Hussein levels) and has a very recent history of human rights abuses. English is one of the languages spoken there but calling it “Anglophone” is stretching it. 1 1/2 out of 3 I make that.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
15 days ago

Maud – It is a stretch to call it ‘Anglophone’. All Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and anyone who lives there permanently will need to learn that language. French was the language of education until 2008 – English was the language learnt by the exiles in Uganda. They are moving the country to English, but this is slow. I have not been there, but I suspect that like Tanzania (where I was living in 1994 with Rwandans), as a tourist English would be all you would need, but if you live there – no chance. I would be interested if you have… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Philip Groves
Dr John Wallace
Dr John Wallace
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
16 days ago

I was involved in the Idi Amin expulsions as I led on the reception of refugees where I was living at the time and the Council of Churches did a great job in kitting out 2 houses

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Jo B
16 days ago

The Home Office are completely overwhelmed by asylum applications – 60,000 since the start of last year, only 15 of which have been removed from the UK after their claims were rejected. It is costing the Treasury £1.5 billion a year – with £5 million a day being spent on hotel costs alone.

And that is during a cost of living crisis with pay demands from public sector unions that simply can’t be met: witness the “summer of discontent” about to be unleashed on the country commencing with strike action by the RMT this very week.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
16 days ago

Setting aside all questions of morality etc. for a moment, the question is whether the policy will in fact act as a deterrent, and further, whether it will do so in a cost effective manner. Matthew Rycroft didn’t think so, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/migration-and-economic-development-partnership-ministerial-direction/letter-from-matthew-rycroft-to-rt-hon-priti-patel-accessible

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
16 days ago

I understood him to say that there was not sufficient evidence for him to conclude that the policy would act as a deterrent and in a cost effective way, which is not quite the same thing as saying it wouldn’t.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  David Exham
16 days ago

Yes, Minister.

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
16 days ago

But even Sir Humphrey was, on occasions, right!

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  David Exham
16 days ago

If it acts as a deterrent, then it will put the criminal gangs out of business; if not, then Rwanda will be the beneficiary. Either way, it’s a win-win, not least because it will be far cheaper for the UK government to fund accommodation in Kigali than in London.

Last edited 16 days ago by Maud Colthwaite
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
16 days ago

60 000 asylum applications is a tiny number, by population barely half the EU average, and 30% lower than it was 20 years ago. If the Home Office is overwhelmed then it is because it is understaffed. If the Home Office were better equipped (and actually bothered to investigate claims properly rather than doing default-deny and waiting for the appeal) then the process would be a lot faster. It’s a classic case of being penny wise and pound foolish.

I’m not sure what public sector workers being unwilling to accept yet another pay cut has to do with anything.

Froghole
Froghole
18 days ago

I was once of the view, if only for antiquarian reasons, that bishops should stay in parliament. My views have since changed by about 180 degrees. I must confess finding myself wholly unconvinced by Dr Fraser’s special pleading for what is, in truth, the threadbare ‘privilege’ of a cosmetic establishment and for the retention of the bishops in parliament. There are other views, as here, for instance: https://scmpress.hymnsam.co.uk/blog/would-disestablishment-silence-the-church-of-england. Parliamentary prelacy is being subverted by the statistics, as per the Voas/Bruce findings here (esp. pp. 21-22): https://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/39363/bsa_36.pdf. 12% in England were even nominally Anglican in 2018, down from 40% in 1983,… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Froghole
18 days ago

I think the situation is even more serious for the Church of England than you describe. I live in Southwell & Nottingham diocese where, in 2019, the *ALL AGE* Average Weekly Attendance was 1.1% of the total population (12,900 attendees out of a population of 1,165,000). I am often waiting outside Southwell Minster at the end of the main Sunday service: with the exception of members of the music department (who are employees and of varying levels of religiosity), it is rare to see anyone much under the age of seventy leaving the building. I realise this comment is a… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Laurence Cunnington
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
18 days ago

Many thanks. That elides with my experiences of Nottinghamshire (and elsewhere). Absent a few churches in and around Nottingham itself (Wollaton, Lenton, ‘St Nics’), I am struggling to recall a critical mass of young people, still less families, although I recall seeing a few at places Babworth, Colston Basset, North Collingham, etc., but only a few relative to the mass of ‘seniors’. The much vaunted ‘growth’ of the diocese is, like that of London, concentrated overwhelmingly in a few largely urban or suburban churches, which are invariably evangelical. The growth of these churches flatters to deceive, since it is offset… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Froghole
17 days ago

It sounds like the British population at large is disestablishing itself from the CofE. Except for 1640 – 1662 (per your first comment), the Christian Church and the British government (in all of of their various forms and power sharing) have been allied. But if change is to occur, I see two possibilities.: 1) A disestablished Church of England with a secular Parliament, no Lords Spiritual, and the CofE given the same legal status as all other religions, or 2) Some type of arrangement, based on census or other official data gathering, of apportioning the Lords Spiritual among the various… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
16 days ago

“Except for 1640 – 1662 (per your first comment), the Christian Church and the British government (in all of of their various forms and power sharing) have been allied.” Many thanks, but I am not really certain this is the case. It has not been so in Ireland/Northern Ireland since 1869, when the Church of Ireland was disestablished *and* the ‘regium donum’ for RC and dissenting clergy was also scrapped (from 1871). Insofar as the churches are recognised at all in Northern Ireland it is only by including the RC and Anglican archbishops (including those of Dublin) and the moderator… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
18 days ago

I agree with Sharon Jagger that there should be transparency and public statement about a church’s decision to seek male-only priestly and episcopal oversight… it seems inexcusable not to be fully informative about that, especially since it hinges on PCC and democratic process, and you can’t exercise democracy without open and informed consent… but also, because people need information when choosing which church to attend. Given that the process of vocation requires huge protectiveness for the ordinand (or postulants in religious life), I strongly agree that there should be required transparency on the part of people charged with the ordinand’s… Read more »

Lizzie Taylor
Lizzie Taylor
Reply to  Susannah Clark
18 days ago

Hi Susannah, Good to have your comment. Just wondering if you have any ideas you could suggest on next steps to achieve a genuine solution on the transparency problem? Over the last decade lay representatives on General Synod have asked for action to be taken, other lay people have asked for action to be taken, etc. If clergy won’t respond, what next?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Lizzie Taylor
18 days ago

If a parish wishes to suspend the ministry of women, or opt for alternative episcopal oversight, it should require majority support of everyone on the parish roll – and at least every 5 years. That way it is impossible for the decision to be kept obscure. It would also be much more democratic.

Last edited 18 days ago by Kate
Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Kate
18 days ago

Those are good ideas and we pushed for something like this in GS but did not get it. However, it still would not lead to statements on websites, which is largely why new members and those seeking a church to join don’t realise what their church believes.

And of course we don’t do alternative oversight – we phrased it as extended oversight to make a point!

Lizzie Taylor
Lizzie Taylor
Reply to  Charles Read
18 days ago

Kate’s and Charles’s ideas taken together make sense for a solution.

The wording of the 2014 settlement documents – the Declaration & Guidance (GS Misc 1076 & GS Misc1077) – was exploitably-vague.

Adjustments were provided for then, and adjustments are now proven to be needed, so that proper parish consultation, democratic representation of the majority view, and regular review of these resolutions are actually required rather than just recommended. Once this is in place, it will be indisputable that PCCs are truly signalling the wishes of their parishes, as was specified in para 18 of the Declaration:

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/GS%20Misc%201076%20Women%20in%20the%20Episcopate.pdf

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Lizzie Taylor
18 days ago

I agree. There are several layers of issues here. One is the actual process of resolving to request male-only priesthood, oversight. Another, which I know you have highlighted, Lizzie, and I hope you won’t mind if I draw attention to here because it’s really helpful: is the vulnerability that women may face, for example as ordinands, because of the need for more transparency and protection to guard against possible discrimination. That probably also merits more formalised processes. Starting with process leading to PCC requesting bishops to allow male only leadership in the Church: I think Kate is right to seek… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Lizzie Taylor
18 days ago

As well as a mandatory central Church statement on parish church homepages (and Facebook equivalents), I think there should be a link to a deeper explanation of the views and the processes involved for implementing (and reviewing them). I believe this local church explanation should be obliged to date the next church consultation and manner of review. It should also be required to post the actual verbatim letter of representation to the Bishop in furtherance of the PCC resolution. A nationwide list of all churches that have implemented these provisions should be posted and maintained on the main Church of… Read more »

Lizzie Taylor
Lizzie Taylor
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

I agree with your suggestions Susannah. When such adjustments are implemented, our arrangements will finally be consistent with a church which is ‘fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being equally open to all, without reference to gender.’ (Guiding Principle 1 of the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/GS%20Misc%201076%20Women%20in%20the%20Episcopate.pdf ).

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

Is it not normal or required for parishes in the CoE to hold annual parish meetings in which the attendees approve the budget, discuss and vote on issues such as these and elect the members of the PCC? In TEC, such is not only the norm, it is required by the canons.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Pat ONeill
17 days ago

Yes, Pat. However, I believe that tighter regulation would be better, making a re-affirmation of the male-only leadership mandatory – and that requires a process of parish consultation and engagement *before* such a meeting, so these important matters can be aired and discussed. So my view is that it should not just be a question of people showing up at the annual meeting, and perhaps the resolution on male priests will be raised… but rather that there is a mandatory vote on this issue, with due process before – whether that is every three years, four years, or five years.… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
17 days ago

Yes, there must be an annual meeting, held before the end of June each year. For legal reasons there are two meetings, usually held one after the other. The Annual Meeting of Parishioners is a short meeting at which the two churchwardens are elected. (Attendance is anyone on the church electoral roll, plus anyone resident in the geographical parish.) This is followed by the Annual Parochial Church Meeting or APCM, which receives the reports from the previous year, including the financial report, and elects the PCC for the coming year (or a third of the PCC to serve for the… Read more »

Dave
Dave
18 days ago

Giles Fraser, like so many who favour establishment used the terms ‘the Church’ and the ‘Church of England’ interchangeably. This is rather thoughtless and somewhat cavalier towards other Christian bodies in the UK. I am pretty sure, for example, the RC Church has a higher church attendance rate in the UK than the Anglicans. Two further points which those who will not countenance disestablishment really have to answer: How do you justify only Church of ENGLAND bishops sitting in a UK parliament? The establishment of the church in Scotland is a very different matter and the church is not so… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Dave
18 days ago

“How do your justify only Church of England bishops sitting in a UK parliament?” You can’t. Similarly, you cannot justify the archbishop crowning the monarch of the UK, unless you believe the UK is merely a sham/front for English domination of the other three countries (which it is). Of course, from 1801-69 there was a United Church of England & Ireland, with one archbishop and 3 bishops from Ireland sitting by rotation (having all 22 Irish bishops sit would not have been feasible politically in 1800), and until 1920 the Welsh bishops also sat. As to Scotland, I must stress… Read more »

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Froghole
18 days ago

It is a democratic obscenity that the Lords Spiritual exists still. There is no justification for a marginal denomination (by headcount worshippers vs national population) having members of its senior clergy as members of the second chamber as a right.
Yes the Church of England does pageant well, as recently seen in the Platinum Jubilee, but that can be a grotesque theatrical performance for the unchurched who can appear confused and uncomfortable. Doesn’t seem like the congregation is there to worship God which, to my simple mind, is the purpose of attending a church service,

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Graham Watts
18 days ago

“a grotesque theatrical performance” It’s ‘English Shinto’, in effect, which is almost certainly unfair to Shinto. The televised services in question are those attended by the elite, scarcely any of whom are either believers or even occasional attendees. If these performances have any ‘value’, it is in: (i) the suggestion by the elite that their status as a ruling class is somehow sanctified, and therefore has a source of legitimacy other than that of popular consent (so the proles should not get any ideas or start behaving in a presumptuous or uppity manner); and (ii) permitting the clergy, specifically those… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Froghole
18 days ago

I agree that representatives of other faiths or denominations, with clear widespread ministries across the land, should have similar right to seats in the Lords. However, I do not favour disestablishment for many of the reasons Giles raises. I DO think the Church of England still has presence and engagement across very many parishes throughout the land, however diminished it becomes in numbers, and I believe that this contract between Government, Church, and Monarchy has been an instrument that perhaps God has used (and may continue to use) in sometimes unseen ways of grace. Although the concept of a ‘National… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

“I DO think the Church of England still has presence and engagement across very many parishes throughout the land,…”

‘…of England’ – my addition for emphasis.

Even if somehow one is reconciled to the Lords Spiritual all being Anglican, that they are all English is manifestly unsupportable.

Last edited 17 days ago by Kate
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

There are exceptions, but agreed that they are few, the most obvious one being Rowan Williams while he was Archbishop of Canterbury. And, of course, the title of the earlier thread about their letter was unintentionally misleading; only 26 of the bishops are Lords Spiritual (actually currently 25 as Winchester is treated as vacant and acting bishops don’t seem to count). On the constitutional point, I respectfully disagree with most comments here, and doubtless Froghole will say that my objection could be easily remedied. Just a reminder that the House of Lords consists of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal –… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
17 days ago

If defenestrating the Lords Spiritual was part of reforming a ludicrously bloated House of Lords, so be it (bishops frustrated by the constraints of home life can become like second term prime ministers seeking a foreign adventure). What matters surely is that affairs of state are still transacted by our bishops at pulpit and altar.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
17 days ago

The bishops are a tiny minority in the total membership of the House of Lords: 26 out of a total of 771, I believe. Here are two extracts from the excellent website Law & Religion UK, written fully 10 years ago, by the co-editor Frank Cranmer: “In conclusion, my own view is that, given the current makeup of the House of Lords, the presence of the Lords Spiritual does no harm at all and quite a lot of good. But one can well understand why someone not resident in England might take a different view. And then there’s the question… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
17 days ago

Far from being negative, I would fully expect our bishops to continue contributing to the national conversation if the Church is to remain true to the model we find in the New Testament. However, I am no longer convinced that the Lords is the best or most appropriate forum for this. If the bishops were to follow the abbots out of the Lords would it really be a loss? Would anyone even notice? This need not mean the end of Establishment – I would expect the ABC to anoint Charles III.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Allan Sheath
17 days ago

Alan, you have expressed well a point I wanted to make but was struggling to write. Given the reaction to the bishops’ letter, they may have more freedom to comment on social issues if they aren’t in the Lords.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
17 days ago

I’m afraid I am more persuaded by Frank Cranmer’s view that “the presence of the Lords Spiritual does no harm at all and quite a lot of good.” I fail to see why anyone in the C of E would wish to lose a constitutional and historic voice in the House of Lords. Other denominations and faiths are represented there. To me the idea of the C of E abandoning ship seems perverse.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

Voices of any other denominations and faiths are there by an accident. the CofE Bishops being there by right is a significant distinction. They are there as church leaders of the CofE and wear its uniform. Whilst they do not speak for the CofE as a whole, but from their own viewpoint or party line on some occasions, the fact that they have a seperate title as Lords Spiritual makes EVERY difference.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Graham Watts
16 days ago

They wear their choir dress number two ‘uniform’: the black chimère in place of the scarlet one. Inevitably that does single them out visually. I think a day dress black clerical suit would be a reasonable replacement. They don’t stand out any more than the other peers, officers of state, the judges, etc., in full colours at the Opening of Parliament.

Last edited 16 days ago by Rowland Wateridge
David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Allan Sheath
16 days ago
  • But affairs of state are not transacted ‘by our bishops at pulpit and altar’. That is done, surely, by the government. What the bishops do in the pulpit, or in TV interviews, is comment.
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  David Exham
16 days ago

Feel free to use ‘comment’, David. I prefer ‘transaction’ for it’s dynamic properties at pulpit and at altar: healing for the sick, freedom for the oppressed and so on.

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

Yes, it is a trivial issue. The bishops occupy a tiny proportion of the total number of seats in the Lords. Other Christian denominations and faiths are amply represented on the benches. And surely the purpose of the upper chamber is that it is a revising one, there to scrutinise legislation: the Commons is supreme. The presence of two dozen bishops is no more anomalous than that of the hereditary peers, or the Liberal Democrats, who are vastly over-represented in relation to the puny number of their MPs. That said, the Lords do, I believe, add an extra dimension to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

Speaking as a Scot, I’m hoping next year we can sort that one out for you 😉

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

I find it refreshing to read a comment that is not afraid to address the question of what God’s purpose and will is for the Church of England. How rarely such matters are discussed compared to the worldly aspects.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

“I believe God sometimes tethers us into governments and authorities, in part to maintain bond, covenant, and platformed presence in the life of the Nation.” As James Madison of the United States noted in the Federalist Papers (a series of pamphlets circulated in the late 1780s seeking to persuade the legislatures of the 13 original states to ratify the US Constitution), if people were angels, government would not be necessary. So, although the Divine Right of Rulers I hope is dead, buried, and dissipated (formal boilerplate declarations by Queen Elizabeth II notwithstanding), nonetheless I agree that God may countenance governments… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Dave
17 days ago

Roman Catholic bishops are prohibited from participating in any legislature, not just in the UK.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  T Pott
17 days ago

I am drifting to the view that that prohibition is right.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  T Pott
17 days ago

For that reason, after consulting Rome, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor declined the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s offer of a seat in the House of Lords.

But paradoxically, the very first clause of Magna Carta in 1297 protected and preserved in perpetuity the freedom, rights and liberties of the English church when that church was, of course, still Roman Catholic. Now, in 2022, even some Anglicans wish to dispense with the constitutionality inherited Christian role in the House of Lords! And this being said on ‘Thinking Anglicans’!

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

Unfortunately a convention seems to have developed that the Lords Spiritual can’t speak out against party political lines. So for instance they haven’t openly called on Johnson to resign. If they can push back against that convention and regain an unfettered freedom to speak out then staying is advantageous. If, however, remaining in the Lords means that their ability to speak out is, or feels to be, circumscribed then it would be better to give up the seats.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
16 days ago

Sadly, Kate, people seem to be prepared to dispense with our history, heritage and, specifically, a Christian voice in the House of Lords. I would argue the opposite! Never before has there been such a need for one as in this present day. The Lords contains Cross Benchers who equally eschew party politics; they are a larger group than the bishops who rarely, if ever, attend in double numbers – except for the Opening of Parliament, along with the Judges in what is an essentially ceremonial occasion. I wonder how many critics and abolitionists watch – or have even ever… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

Now, in 2022, even some Anglicans wish to dispense with the constitutionality inherited Christian role in the House of Lords! And this being said on ‘Thinking Anglicans’!

Such talk is not new, however. For example, after 1894 Charles Gore moved towards disestablishment (it was not possible, he thought, for an established church to be both ‘salt and leaven’, viz. Mtt. 5:13 and 13:33), and his antagonist, Hensley Henson, also moved in that direction in the wake of the 1928 Prayer Book fiasco, as in ‘Disestablishment’ (1929) and ‘The Church of England’ (1939).

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

I’m a lifelong Anglican, and I like to think. Sorry if it shocks you, Rowland, that the thinking of some Anglicans has led us to be opposed to the idea of an established church.

Speaking for myself, I have a basic problem with the idea of Christians being ‘lords’. Doesn’t seem to me to sit well with the teaching of Jesus.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
16 days ago

I like to think that I also am a lifelong Anglican who likes to think. I assume, and hope, that you were not implying that I don’t think! We have discussed this issue many times on previous threads and your views are clear and, as well as writing from the other side of the Atlantic, you have allies here. Any possibility of your accepting that others are entitled to hold a different view?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago

Rowland, where do you see me arguing that others don’t have a right to hold a different view? Is the mere expression of a viewpoint now held to infringe on the rights of others to a different viewpoint? When i said “I’m a lifelong Anglican and I like to think”, I was riffing off your sentence ‘Now, in 2022, even some Anglicans wish to dispense with the constitutionality inherited Christian role in the House of Lords! And this being said on ‘Thinking Anglicans’!’ The clear implication of that sentence is that no one who believes in disestablishment has a claim… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  T Pott
16 days ago

It is Canon 285 (3): “Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.” (https://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/cic_lib2-cann208-329_en.html#CHAPTER_III.; also Can. 278 (3)). It was not only Cormac Card. Murphy-O’Connor who was offered a peerage by Gordon Brown and declined it. Basil Card. Hume was offered one by Callaghan, Thatcher and Blair. The first offer was proffered as early as May 1978, little more than two years after Hume’s elevation (Callaghan was following Wilson’s precedents of Donald Soper and George MacLeod; the offer made by Callaghan was repeated almost verbatim by Thatcher in 1987). Hume declined… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Dave
16 days ago

Yet the Lords Spiritual are not popular, and in 2017 only 8% of those polled felt they should be retained: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/public-want-religion-kept-out-of-politics-t3rk055cx. Even an internal Church briefing paper of February 2021 conceded that their numbers should be reduced: an echo not only of the abortive Crossman (1969) and Wakeham (2000) reforms, but also, I think, of the 2nd earl Spencer who in the early 1830s declared himself in favour of retaining one or two ‘to keep up the breed’ (the Spencers of Wormleighton, Warwickshire, were originally sheep breeders). Indeed, on 19 October 1967 Richard Crossman, by now lord president, attended a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Dave
16 days ago

The arguments made for the retention of the bishops in parliament are that: (i) they do no harm; and (ii) the country has greater things to worry about. As to ‘harm’, I note that a leitmotif of TA is ‘equality’. Yet in 2013 some 14 bishops voted against gay marriage. Also, in 2021 they also opposed assisted suicide (a proposal which commanded the support of some 84% of those polled in 2019, including a majority of Anglicans). The UK currently has multiple interlocking crises: (a) a productivity/growth crisis; (b) a government delivery crisis; (c) an economic equality crisis; and (d)… Read more »

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Froghole
16 days ago

“Scotland and Wales accepted participation in the British state after 1707/1536 on the basis that constitutional asymmetry could be tolerated if the UK delivered a positive economic trade-off. The ability of the UK to do so has collapsed over the last century, hence the rise of nationalist sentiment.” This is just not true: the UK does very well as a country in all the lists of international comparisons one can look at. I think that rather the problem the UK has is that there is a significant, certainly very loud, group of people – and they tend to be the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark
16 days ago

“It is…factually incorrect”. The asymmetry of the UK’s political economy should be evident, and is discussed extensively here https://global.oup.com/academic/product/state-of-the-union-9780199258208?cc=gb&lang=en& and here https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/316/316625/the-dreadful-monster-and-its-poor-relations/9780141992266.html, for example. But if you don’t believe me, then consider the assessment of a great judge and legal historian, Thomas Cooper of Culross (incidentally, an erstwhile unionist MP) in the well-known case of ‘MacCormick v Lord Advocate’ (1953): “The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. It derives its origin from Coke and Blackstone, and was widely popularized in the nineteenth century by Bagehot and… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Mark
16 days ago

As I recall it was the No campaign in Scotland that spent the whole campaign running down Scotland as too small and too poor to be an independent nation. Sharing a landmass does not in itself mean that two nations should share a government. The Iberian peninsula offers one such example. Two of the examples you give (I’m less familiar with Timor l’Este beyond knowing that the population prefer independence to Indonesian domination) involved partition due to an occupation of part of the territory by a foreign power.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Mark
15 days ago

It is for the people of Scotland to review and determine what future they want for themselves and their children. And the last Scottish Government elections were won by parties committed to holding a further referendum, so we shall see. Democracy.

David Foster
David Foster
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

We were assured at the last referendum that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Seems that was incorrect. I fear that the constant anti English rhetoric is becoming tiresome. I would be happy to see you have your independence and go.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Foster
15 days ago

“We were assured at the last referendum that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” It appears that is not now the wish of the people of Scotland, given that they voted and gave mandate to two political parties over reviewing the wishes of the people of Scotland, now, today. Surely, if the people of Scotland want to ascertain if opinion has changed, they are entirely within their democratic rights to do so? And if you believe in democracy, why should you be afraid or oppose such a step? Votes don’t have to be only ‘once in a lifetime’.… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

I don’t know where Mark lives but I can assure him that, as someone living in Edinburgh, I think Froghole and Susaanah are quite right. The “glue” which has held the UK together, mostly related to Protestantism and the Empire, has largely dissolved. It is abundantly clear that the Union in its present form is broken. Before Brexit, I would have said that some kind of autonomous status analagous to that of a Canadian Province would be appropriate but now we can see the damage that a hard Brexit is doing to our economy, I am convinced that, post Brexit,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Foster
15 days ago

Anyway, this discussion swerved away from the thing I’d point out: that Spiritual Lords representing the Church of England could continue to do so if Scotland determines that it wants independence. In fact it would be more coherent than the current situation if English Bishops were part of an English political set up. Besides that, I believe the issue of the House of Lords is subordinate to the question of Establishment. I have explained why I am in favour of Establishment of the Church of England as a National Church (of England). I don’t think the debate over having or… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
16 days ago

It is perhaps significant that the question of disestablishment has very quickly been boiled down to the question of episcopal representation in parliament; this is telling, because it just goes to show what little the heavily reduced ‘establishment’ now amounts to after the reforms of the nineteenth century, which effectively disestablished the Church in most senses, removing its control or influence over education, welfare, family and testamentary law, and local government. Substantive establishment was replaced by ersatz establishment; the kernel was removed, but the husk remains. Various arguments have been made for and against the presence of bishops in parliament.… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Froghole
16 days ago

As ever Froghole you make a very good case. I’m bemused that the bishops are not embarrassed at having seats in the House of Lords; the entropy in the CofE means that it has a significant relationship with only a tiny percentage of the English people and as others have noted nothing with the other three nations of the UK. The archbishops and bishops are mostly well meaning if rather maladroit; however the decline in church attendance and membership is relentless and undermines the claim that the CofE is somehow the church ‘for’ England. The mission ‘initiatives’ and clergy deployment… Read more »

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Fr Dean
15 days ago

The two main parties – Tory and Labour – have dominated both Houses of Parliament for the last century, and supplied all our prime ministers. And yet the combined membership of all the political parties (Tory, Labour, SNP, Lib Dem, Green) reached barely a million in 2019 – still a smaller percentage of the population than is reflected in church attendance. When the 2021 census results are published next week it is predicted to show that roughly half the population ticked the Christian box on the form. So if a mere 3% of Lords are Spiritual, it doesn’t seem like… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Maud Colthwaite
Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
15 days ago

Maud I thought that attendance at CofE churches had been well under a million for some time.

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Fr Dean
14 days ago

True, but my point is that church attendance for all denominations is, even today, substantially more than the combined membership of political parties. The sad truth is that participation in both activities has declined markedly over the decades.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Maud Colthwaite
14 days ago

Maud. I haven’t worked out how you link the census designation of Christian (which I would think is a mind set rather than a member of any church denomination) and the presence of Bishops of the Church of England by right – a single denomination from a single faith group.
It is a BIG deal.

Maud Colthwaite
Maud Colthwaite
Reply to  Graham Watts
14 days ago

Because I don’t hear any grumbles from the Archbishop of Westminster, the Moderator of the Free Churches, or the Chief Rabbi about their presence in the Lords. Quite the opposite! They would regard them as defending a spiritual voice in the legislature.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Fr Dean
14 days ago

I agree that the statistics show that the number of regular congregants of the C of E has been declining to a tiny percentage of the population. But please do not ignore the contact and relationships that are built through things like the ‘occasional offices’. The number of people attending funerals, weddings and christenings led by a C of E minister is not recorded in the annual statistics. As the priest for three villages I spent at least as much time, if not more, with those who were not regular congregants than those who were. Add in ministry in schools… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
15 days ago

I cannot comment on the ‘Lords Spiritual’ business…to arcane for this colonial boy. However, I think clergy in legislatures can be a good thing. I can tell you that Catholic priests have been elected to the House of Commons in Canada. One of the most well known is Father Andy Hogan ( priest/economist) from my home federal riding, who also attended my grandfather’s parish. I knew Andy. I have a picture of him in a parish stage play with my grandfather. His sister ( a nun) was my ninth grade Latin teacher. Anglican Bishop Dennis Drainville served as an elected… Read more »

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Rod Gillis
14 days ago

Rod, if elected then absolutely why not. We can all question the processes of elections/who can stand and what bars there might be to standing and being known etc. However if a candidate stands for election and earns sufficient votes to win a seat then good for them. These Bishops in the UK just get seats as a right. Our second chamber is whole unelected which could be seen as a further undemocratic situation.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Graham Watts
14 days ago

Thanks Graham Watts. I agree completely with you on the election and democratic legitimacy aspects. My comment does tend to compare apples and oranges. However, simply wanted to broaden the question a tiny bit i.e. specific dynamics of clergy in parliament: does their presence have particular problems and opportunities? I recall a conversation I had with Fr. Andy Hogan MP about the abortion issue. His New Democratic Party’s official stance was (is) unreconcilable with the magisterium. His response to me was that “none of the parties’ hands are clean on abortion”. However his expertise as an economist and his connection… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
14 days ago

For me – in far off Aotearoa/N.Z. – the most telling paragraph about Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords is this: “We are given a central role in curating our national life because we aim to hold the nation together; we connect our legislature to its past; we represent faith in its many forms; we don’t (shouldn’t anyway) do party politics; and we are not lackeys of the government. And, for all its faults, you probably won’t find another organisation that can do all of that.” Thus, it can be understood, that on this issue at least the C.… Read more »

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