Thinking Anglicans

Responses to the Apology from the Archbishops

The original signatories of the Open Letter have issued this public response

“MORE THAN WORDS ARE NOW NEEDED” – RESPONSE TO THE ARCHBISHOPS’ APOLOGY

Whilst we are grateful for the Archbishops’ apology and the recognition that their statement has jeopardized our trust, the fact is more than words are now needed.

Over 3500 people have now signed our open letter, which includes nearly 90 members of General Synod and a range of other senior church leaders.  This shows the strength of concern that exists across the Church of England that its mission is being significantly damaged and that their promise of a “radical new Christian inclusion” must now be delivered.

We await the evidence that they have truly heard and taken onboard our concerns by what comes out in the Living in Love and Faith report, and the willingness to engage directly with those whose lives it primarily affects.

Christina Baron
Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain
Ven Peter Leonard
Jayne Ozanne

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Statement from the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England about the recent apology from the house of Bishops for their ‘Pastoral Statement on Same sex Civil Partnerships

We welcome the Archbishops’ apology and acknowledgement of the hurt & division their words have caused.
We regret that they have neither withdrawn their ill-advised Statement nor sought to amend its harsh and cruel wording. It still stands in its entirety as an attack on the integrity and lives of not just many in the LGBTI communities but also to the countless committed and faithful straight couples and lone parents raising children whose love and commitment they have disparaged.

We are disappointed that they do not address the undermining of the trust in their leadership and the Living in Love and Faith process that the release of the Statement has caused. Trust cannot be simply rebuilt by ignoring that reality. Bridges have to be built from both sides and the Statement released last week demolished the foundations on the Bishops’ side.

We had hoped that the Bishops might have learnt from this embarrassing experience but they appear not to have done so. We invite the Bishops to reach out and ask to meet with representatives of the LGBTI communities and sit down and ask how trust can be rebuilt. Telling us it will simply be so suggests that they are still unwilling to listen, unable to learn from this very public embarrassment and does nothing to inspire confidence for the future.

We would welcome an invitation to meet with the Bishops to discuss how that trust can be re-established.

Friday 31st January 2020

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At Via MediaGiles Goddard an LGBT member of the co-ordinating group for the Living in Love and Faith project has published After the Apology – What Next?

…I have heard a great deal of contrition from the College of Bishops and from the Archbishops and I am grateful for that. I hope it will help us to move on. But I also have a strong sense that the underlying causes for the publication of the Statement have only just begun to be addressed. I have had very recent conversations with bishops who remain dismayed by the Church’s way of being: still, deep down, dominated by a world-view which feels white, male and patriarchal in its teaching on sexuality and relationships. Women still find it hard to be heard. There is still a huge problem with BAME representation. There is only one out LGBTI+ bishop…

Do read it all.

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Fr. Dean Henley
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Fr. Dean Henley

These men are inured to any form or amount of criticism; their secret dining club is called Nobody’s Friends for goodness sake. If they were honourable men the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would have resigned by now. The Church of England was in crisis even before this debacle; so their response has been to raid an armoury and blow their feet to smithereens.

Canon Dr Michael Graham Blyth
Guest
Canon Dr Michael Graham Blyth

The House of Bishops still seems oblivious to the fact that they have propelled themselves into an existential crisis not seen for decades. When the episcopal leadership of the Church of England undermines the ability of its clergy and laity to communicate the universal appeal of the gospel to all conditions of men and women in every kind of circumstance of life, then that leadership must be robustly challenged. The issue of trust has now become urgent. Our archbishops and bishops have never held themselves accountable in the same way that they expect clergy and laity to be. It is… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

It is interesting (a) that the apology comes from the archbishops and the statement from the House of Bishops and the non-withdrawal from the College of Bishops (too many different layers and subtleties?); and (b) that the House of Bishops meets between meetings of the General Synod, but the Convocations and the House of Laity haven’t, I think for some time. Perhaps there is a case for Convocation meetings in November when Synod does not meet, and for the laity to consider how they organise? Maybe that would be a way of giving reflection time for LLF outside the whole… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I’m not sure whether this is the right thread as there is so much overlap in the present debate. Little notice seems to be taken by some people that diocesan bishops owe obedience to their respective archbishop: Canon C 1 (3): “3. According to the ancient law and usage of this Church and Realm of England, the priests and deacons who have received authority to minister in any diocese owe canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the bishop of the same, and the bishop of each diocese owes due allegiance to the archbishop of the province as… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Rowland, I was going to agree with you until I did some research. Relevant here (because it is about LGBTI issues) are the Pastoral Principles promoted by the archbishops. In particular: “Principle 6 “Because of our understanding that Christ calls us in humility to regard others as better than ourselves we refuse to exploit any perceived or real power over others.” The bishops have therefore publicly released everyone from the power they had over them, ie the oaths. Where they to try to backtrack on that, it would be dishonest which gives another exit. I keep oaths scrupulously but in… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Kate: I can’t offer any contribution about the theology, if that is what it is, of what you say, but this is the oath sworn by C of E bishops at their Consecration, and I have already quoted the relevant Canon of the C of E. “THE OATH OF DUE OBEDIENCE TO THE ARCHBISHOP “IN the Name of God, Amen. I N. chosen Bishop of the Church and See of N. do profess and promise all due reverence and obedience to the Archbishop and to the Metropolitical Church of N. and to their Successors: So help me God, through Jesus… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

A bishop may ‘obey’ by accepting that ultimately the Archbishop has a role as Archbishop that merits support and endorsement… but a bishop does not break that ‘obedience’ if they openly express disagreement. That’s just grown up responsibility rather than infantilism. It’s not a lack of reverence to tell people you disagree with something the Archbishop has said or done. By all means tell the Archbishop straight to his face first, but if he ignores you, do you stand idly by and pretend there is uniformity behind the boss, when actually he may be doing harm, and you may be… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Susannah: Whatever your personal views, the archbishops possess legal sanctions – the CDM and suspensions which we discussed last year – as examples, the bishops of Chester and Lincoln. I have no doubt that bishops can have their say, but the archbishop has the final word.

Kate
Guest
Kate

No, Susannah. Absent the Pastoral Principles bishops and clergy have committed to God to obey. They can’t wriggle out of it as you suggest because then it makes it meaningless and hypocritical for them to administer marriage oaths, especially since the latest pastoral statement stresses those. Put another way, why should we expect God to keep his promises to us if we don’t keep both the letter and spirit of oaths made freely before Him? We simply cannot have it both ways. That’s why the Pastoral Principles are so relevant because, in the context of LGBTI matters, the archbishops and… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

It isn’t a valid reason though, Rowland. As I say , Principle 6 gives an unfettered release in relation to these matters from all episcopal authority and that of the archbishops. One might argue that wasn’t the (arch)bishops’ intention (we have seen with this latest pastoral statement that they are somewhat careless about the content of statements they issue), but nonetheless they did and, unless withdrawn, it is at least as much a part of the framework of the Church as the latest pastoral statement – arguably more so. Biblically they shouldn’t have given oaths, especially ones which might inhibit… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Sorry, Kate, this has to be my final word. You are entitled to hold your view, but the reality is that the CDM, the Canons of the Church of England and the episcopal oath all have the force of law. Principle 6 is a statement of faith and how we should treat others.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

It seems to me that the oath has a loophole wide enough to solemnly process through: surely one could argue endlessly about what is the Archbishop’s due in terms of obedience?

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

The question open to interpretation is what is “due”?

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Shall we just say that the conscientious speaking of their own convictions allied to an acknowledgement that they will abide by the teaching of the church in the governance of their dioceses should be quite enough to protect them. We don’t have a Magisterium, nor Thought Police.
Bishops have long been free to argue for what they believed should be lawful even if it was at the time forbidden. The ordination of women and the mariage of couples where one or both had a previous spouse still living are two recent examples – but they are far from exceptional.

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

As someone has written the Archbishop has the final word, and day by day he is alienating the church from the people, by his unloving words and actions. It is best for the church he resigns, and retires to an African country of his choice.

Fr John Emlyn

The Rev. Anthony Keller
Guest
The Rev. Anthony Keller

Reading this from across the pond (Episcopal Church, USA) and not wishing to believe I totally understand CoE polity, I am surprised that there has not been a call to separate Church and State. That way the bishops can continue to shoot themselves in the foot, and the secular laws of the UK can live in the 21st century.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

There are calls to separate Church and State, but no real impetus behind them. To be fair, it would be an enormously complex task legally and financially.

ACI
Guest
ACI

The complex task is the one presently underway, and it is costly, hard slogging, and will not end well.

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

ACI Isn’t hope still a theological virtue?

ACI
Guest
ACI

Hope is the paramount virtue, behind charity…

The point is rather different. A contributor suggested that church/state matters are complex. But one has to respond, compared to what? Just consider the huge amount of stress, strain, anger, recrimination, second-guessing…stress, strain anger, recrimination, second-guessing, huge sums paid out…ends well? I doubt it.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The Church of England is not just another protestant sect. It is the State Church, and God’s providence seems to have been at work through that for centuries, creating a huge platform for welding communities and local churches in a shared and common life, both at parish and national level. In my view, this has provided an extraordinary channel of grace, in parish churches up and down the land over many centuries, and the tension that produces does not take away from the grace that operates when this interface with wide society creates a broad church where people can belong… Read more »

God 'elp us all
Guest
God 'elp us all

*The Church of England is not just another protestant sect. It is the State Church,…* The onslaught has begun, and/or is continuing. The ‘House of Lords (Removal of Bishops) Bill’ was introduced in Parliament on 20 January. And as Susannah suggests, ‘other problems in the Church’ do not help. The relationship we have with everyone, not just those ‘in the pews’, is precious and is being imperilled by those who at present have a place in the nation’s decision-making process. We have already lost the ear of the public through the media and their real presence as ‘bums on seats’… Read more »

ACI
Guest
ACI

All these musings may be good ideas. At issue is whether they are in fact workable or are breaking apart as we speak. Moreover, one can well imagine communion linkages perduring — for all parties — should disestablishment become an inevitability.

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

ACI: Janet Fife, if that is the person to who you are referring, didn’t say that Church/State matters are complex—though of course they are—but that separating Church and State would be an enormous complex task, which I would have thought was also unarguably true. But I fail to see why this must be regarded as being comparative; ‘compared to what?’ Why does this have to be asked? To say that something is complex doesn’t imply that it is more or less complex than some other task. In any case, I am at a loss to know why the matter being… Read more »

ACI
Guest
ACI

Janet Fife: ‘an enormously complex task’ — indeed.

Of course you want X and Y. No one doubts that.

The question is whether X or Y will in fact be on offer.