Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum policy
All of the current Lords Spiritual have signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as early as today.
Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.
Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent. These are people Jesus had in mind as he said when we offer hospitality to a stranger, we do it for him. They are the vulnerable that the Old Testament calls us to value. We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.
We must end the evil trafficking; many churches are involved in fighting this evil. This needs global co-operation across every level of society. To reduce dangerous journeys to the UK we need safe routes: the church will continue to advocate for them. But deportations — and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries — are not the way. This immoral policy shames Britain.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York; the Right Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London; the Right Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham; the Right Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham; the Right Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester; the Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry; the Right Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford; the Right Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle; the Right Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans; the Right Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough; the Right Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely; the Right Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark; the Right Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds; the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester; the Right Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester; the Right Rev Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol; the Right Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby; the Right Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; the Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester; the Right Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford; the Right Rev Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter; the Right Rev Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford; the Right Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich; the Right Rev Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
The full text of this latest decision can be found here.
In paragraph 3, the Deputy Chancellor writes
…In this further judgment I will refrain from reproducing the more tendentious of the written representations I have received. I have borne them firmly in mind; but in a consistory court judgment which may attract more general interest than such judgments usually excite, I have no wish to inflame firmly, and genuinely held, feelings any more than is strictly necessary…
Readers who take the time to read all 27 pages may wonder what might be more tendentious than some of the remarks quoted therein.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to tell them that his invitation to bishops from their provinces to attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops remains open. In a joint letter with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Justin said: “God calls us to unity and not to conflict so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.”
House of Bishops’ Meeting – 6th June 2022
The House of Bishops met on 6 June by Zoom.
Bishop Jill Duff was congratulated on her election as an elected suffragan to the House and Arun Arora was also congratulated on his appointment as Bishop of Kirkstall.
The Bishop of Fulham introduced a paper outlining the importance of Ecumenical texts and the proposal for a new and formalised process for their reception by the Church of England, with a particular emphasis on the role of Bishops as Guardians of the Faith. This follows recommendations by the Anglican Communion ecumenical body, IASCUFO, and the Anglican Consultative Council. The House agreed the approach set out in the paper.
The House then discussed the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resource tentatively named The Gift of the Church and how the House will be offered opportunities to shape it once a draft version of the resource is shared in the coming weeks. The Gift of the Church is envisaged as an accessible, publicly available learning resource that supplements the LLF Book, and will be an additional resource for the bishops’ discernment process in autumn 2022.
In the past three years, Christ Church has held back from offering commentary on a series of damaging reports regarding its relationship with the former Dean, Dr Martyn Percy. Those reports related to a number of disputes between the institution and its Head of House, the earliest of which dates back to 2017 while the most recent concerned an allegation of sexual harassment made against Dr Percy by Alannah Jeune. During this time, despite attacks on it and its members by supporters of the former Dean, Christ Church has consistently tried to avoid making pronouncements in the hope of avoiding a destructive cycle of claim and counter-claim. The trustees (Christ Church’s Governing Body) have been mindful that they all have both a duty of confidentiality and a general duty to place the charity’s interests above their own and have sought to calm rather than inflame damaging media attention…
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Arun Arora, Vicar of St Nicholas Church, Durham, and Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral, to the Suffragan See of Kirkstall, in the Diocese of Leeds.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 27 May 2022
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Arun Arora, Vicar of St Nicholas Church, Durham, and Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral, to the Suffragan See of Kirkstall, in the Diocese of Leeds, in succession to The Right Reverend Paul Slater following his retirement.
Arun studied Law and Politics at Birmingham University and worked as a solicitor after graduation. He was appointed Bishop’s Press Officer and Diocesan Communications Officer in the Diocese of Birmingham in 2000, and began training for ordained ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham in 2004. He served his title at St Mark’s, Harrogate, in the former Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, alongside serving as the Director of Communications for the Office of the Archbishop of York. He was ordained Priest in 2008.
In 2010, Arun was appointed Team Leader of Pioneer Ministries, Wolverhampton, in the Diocese of Lichfield. In 2012, he became the Director of Communications for the National Church Institutions. Arun took up his current role as Vicar of St Nicholas Church, Durham, in 2017, and was additionally appointed Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral in 2021.
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Robert Saner-Haigh, to the Suffragan See of Penrith, in the Diocese of Carlisle.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 27 May 2022
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Robert Saner-Haigh, Residentiary Canon of Newcastle Cathedral and Director of Mission and Ministry for the Diocese of Newcastle, to the Suffragan See of Penrith, in the Diocese of Carlisle, in succession to The Right Reverend Dr Emma Ineson following her resignation.
Rob was educated at Birmingham University and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Lawrence, Appleby, in the Diocese of Carlisle, and was ordained Priest in 2006.
Rob was appointed Bishop’s Chaplain and Assistant Priest at St Michael’s, Dalston, with Cumdivock, Raughton Head and Wreay in 2007. Alongside these roles, he also served as Director of Ordinands and Diocesan Initial Ministerial Education Officer. In 2010, Rob was appointed Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity, Kendal.
Rob took up his current roles as Residentiary Canon of Newcastle Cathedral and Director of Mission and Ministry for the Diocese of Newcastle in 2020.
Church of England press release
The Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, has today published its Terms of Reference (see below) to review the handling of safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The review follows a referral by the Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese to the ISB. As previously stated, the review will not be considering the wider issues between the College and the former Dean.
Statement from Maggie Atkinson, Chair of the ISB:
“Given substantial previous work has been undertaken but solid conclusions now need to be reached, under the scrutiny remit of the ISB we will undertake a review considering all that has previously been done on this case.
“Our aim will be to advise both those directly affected, and the whole of the C of E, where what has previously been done was appropriate and of good quality, and where there have been errors or shortcomings.
“It is particularly important that those who have been caused pain by what has happened, including the former Dean, have their concerns heard and reviewed by an independent body. The ISB was formed to do such work, and to tell both those affected by complex cases such as this, and the wider church, where change is needed.”
“It is well worth a listen to understand misgivings about the way the ISB is approaching this case which in many ways is more complex than the Makin review. That has not been well managed and is already 2 years overdue. Do listen here from 33 minutes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007b3r PS if you only want to listen to Kate Blackwell QC on what an independent inquiry comprises it starts at 37:45.”
Martyn Percy has written three articles which Modern Church has published.
“In three short articles, Martyn Percy looks at three words currently being given the full 1984 treatment: independent, ethical and trustworthy. Is the Church of England using these words as defined by most dictionaries in 2022? Or, are we now enmeshed in an Orwellian church in which little that is said corresponds to our normal frames of reference?”
The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in York on 8-12 July 2022. The outline timetable has been circulated to Synod members and is copied below.
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2022 OUTLINE OF BUSINESS
Full details of each item will be on the agenda
Friday 8 July
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
– Opening worship and introductions
– Welcome from the Anglican Communion guests
– Presidential Address
– Business Committee Report
– Routemap to Net Zero Carbon
– War in Ukraine Not later than 5.45pm
Saturday 9 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
– Opening worship
– See of Canterbury Membership of the Crown Nominations Commission
– Independent Review of Lowest Income Communities Funding and Strategic Development Funding
– Spending plans of the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
– Safeguarding and Independence
– Diocesan Stipend Fund (Amendment) Measure – first consideration Diocesan Synod Motion: Lincoln Diocese
– Insurance Premium Tax
– Church of England Pensions (Application of Capital Funds) Measure – first consideration Not later than 5.55pm
Evening: CNC candidates market place
Sunday 10 July
2.30 pm – 6.45 pm
– Introduction to group work – Living in Love and Faith and Vision & Strategy
– Group work Private Members’ Motion: Dr Simon Eyre (Chichester)
– Assisted Suicide
8.30 pm – 9.30 pm
– Extended Act of Worship during which voting for CNC central members will take place
Monday 11 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
– Opening worship
– Presentation on Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
– Archbishops’ Council 2023
– Annual Budget Amending Canon 42 – first consideration
2.00 pm – 6.30 pm
– Affirming and Including Disabled People in the Whole Life of the Church
– Church Funds Investment Measure – first consideration
– Resourcing Ministerial Formation
– Miscellaneous Provisions Measure and Amending Canon No 43 – first consideration
8.00 pm – 10.00 pm Diocesan Synod Motion: Canterbury Diocese
– Review of qualifications for PCC membership and entry on the church electoral roll Diocesan Synod Motion: Guildford Diocese
– Age verification on pornography websites
Followed by compline
Tuesday 12 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
– Opening worship
– Loyal Address
– Amendments to the Standing Orders for the membership of the Canterbury Crown Nominations Commission
– Clergy Conduct Measure Implementation Group
– Announcement of election of Central CNC members
– Farewells Not later than 12.30pm
– Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2022,
– Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2022,
– Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure,
– Pensions Rules (Amendment) Scheme
Rosie Dawson attended Martyn Percy’s farewell service in Oxford on Saturday. In an interview conducted shortly beforehand he told her why he’s calling on congregations to withhold their giving from the Church of England, and why he’s not leaving quietly….
…Christ Church College, Oxford, where Martyn Percy had been the dean for eight years, refused to host any sort of farewell. The University Church of St Mary was proposed as an alternative venue but became unavailable once it became clear that the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, and the dean, who is also professor of theological education at King’s College London, could not agree on the content of the service.
In the end it took place in the 19th-century chapel of Exeter College just off Broad Street. The chapel is outside the jurisdiction of the bishop, and he did not attend…
…Following the settlement with Christ Church, the Bishop and Martyn Percy entered into discussions about what form a leaving service should take. In correspondence seen by the Religion Media Centre, Bishop Croft wrote that he was unable to allow him to preach. Dean Percy protested: “Your letter treats me with cruel indifference. It seems to me that you do not really want this service. You clearly think I am leaving in disgrace … I am not.”
The Diocese of Oxford said in a statement: “Mindful of Dr Percy’s stated intention to the bishop to leave the Church of England and also some concerns about Dr Percy’s behaviour behind the scenes, it was not possible to permit Dr Percy to preach at a leaving service organised by the diocese”.
…A statement by the diocese of Oxford, issued on Saturday, criticises Professor Percy and praises Ms Jeune: “We are deeply saddened by the inaccurate and unevidenced claims Dr Percy makes in his media interviews.
“We’ve long said that the actions of some of Dr Percy’s supporters have left people damaged and hurt. None more so than Alannah Jeune. It’s a courageous decision to tell her story given all that she has experienced, but hers is a powerful account that counters the vitriol sent her way. Her story deserves to be widely read.”
(I have checked with the diocese and that is the full text.)
House of Bishops – 9-11 May 2022 inclusive
The House of Bishops held its first residential meeting in 2022, in York over three days. Joining the meeting for the first time were four participant observers of UK Minority Ethnic/ Global Majority Heritage (UKME/GMH) background who were formally welcomed by the House.
As the first substantive item, the House turned its attention to Governance reform. The House noted the update from the National Church Governance Project Board and the Board’s plan to establish the Episcopal Reference Group which will help shape how bishops and the Church of England National Services (CENS) will work together within the new governance model.
The House was then given an update on Racial Justice by the Archbishops’ Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns with the House taking note of progress made to date.
The House was then informed of agreed spending plans on behalf the Triennium Funding Working Group which outlined details and spending plans that will be made public. Plans include a significant increase in funding for the next three years to support God’s mission and ministry across the country, supporting local parishes and growing many more new worshipping communities to serve the whole nation. The Church Commissioners for England intend to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, and plan to maintain this level of funding in the subsequent six years.
The House was then given an update on the work of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) by its Chair. The Chair discussed the Board’s focus as it moves from phase one to phase two of its work and looked ahead to presenting at July Synod.
The House was then addressed by the Interim National Director of Safeguarding with an update on the work of the National Safeguarding Team including work to date on the Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) which also included an update from the Chair of PCR2 Board.
The following day the House was addressed by the Bishop of London in her capacity as the Chair of the Next Steps Group of Living in Love and Faith (LLF). The House discussed the future discernment process of LLF and was joined by the Enabling Officer of LLF. In subsequent group work, the House detailed its aspirations for the discernment process as it relates to future engagement at the College of Bishops in the Autumn and July General Synod.
The Bishop of Kensington then updated the House on plans for the Centre of Cultural Witness, a new initiative launching in the Autumn to strengthen the Church’s public witness. The House took note and shared views on the development and scope of the Centre and ways in which Bishops and other prominent Christians can work towards the development of a distinctively public and Christian voice.
An update was then given on appointments to the Sees of Maidstone and Ebbsfleet which were both noted by the House.
The House was then addressed by the Vice Chair of the Clergy Conduct Measure Implementation Group who set out the final revised proposals for approval. The proposals were approved by the House, with a view that the reforms will establish a proportionate, efficient, and fairer system than the existing system
The House then turned its attention to developing the priority of a younger church, as part of the Vision and Strategy work stream. The House was addressed by the co-head of Vision and Strategy and the Head of Education , with later group and plenary work that focussed on the best ways to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard at both the national and diocesan level.
The House then looked at the future of education – particularly in the context of recent government white papers concerning a proposal that all schools have joined an academy trust by 2030. A series of proposals were approved by the House aimed at allowing dioceses and the whole church to engage in positive and proactive moves to secure the Christian character of Church of England schools and work towards full academisation.
On the final day the House was updated on recent progress towards Net Zero Carbon, including the findings of the Wayfinders Progress. The House endorsed both the Net Zero Carbon planning principles and diocesan milestones and agreed to annual reporting on carbon emissions and the Route map to Net Zero Carbon by 2030.
The House then heard how the Cathedrals Measure 2021 is being implemented by the Church Commissioners and noted the role of diocesan bishops. The House agreed to consider the proposed draft Church Commissioners guidance on cathedral visitations and provide input as part of the consultation.
As a penultimate item the Ministry team at Church House provided an update on theological education and resourcing for Ministerial Formation. The House endorsed their continuing work and the general direction of travel.
As a final item the House took note of reflections from UKME / GMH participants on the meeting, followed by general reflections from the House.