Tag Archives: Church of England

Service to celebrate 25th Anniversary of Jane Fraser’s ordination

Upton on Severn, June 22nd 2014

Sermon by the Rt Revd John Gladwin 

So Ruth went down to the threshing floor and did just what her mother-in-law had instructed her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came stealthily and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman.

Continue reading Service to celebrate 25th Anniversary of Jane Fraser’s ordination

Spartacus: Modelling Rebellion in the Church

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford

The film, Spartacus (1960; directed by Stanley Kubrick) needs little introduction.  Starring Kirk Douglas as the rebellious slave, it is based on a historical novel by Howard Fast – and inspired by the real life of a Thracian slave who led the revolt in the Third Servile War of 73-71 BCE.  A small band of former gladiators and slaves, perhaps no more than eighty in number, and led by Spartacus, grew to an army of around 125,000, to challenge the might of the Roman Empire.  Kubrick’s film starred Laurence Olivier as the Roman general-politician, Marcus Licinius Crassus.  Peter Ustinov won an Academy Award for best supporting actor as Batiatus, a slave trader.  Jean Simmonds and Tony Curtis also starred. The film won four Oscars.

Continue reading Spartacus: Modelling Rebellion in the Church

BREAKING: CoE Synod Approves Women Bishops!

The Guardian live blog of the synod has just reported that all three houses have approved the legislation:

General Synod votes for female bishops

General Synod votes in favour in all three houses:

Bishops: 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 abstention.

Clergy: 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 abstentions

Laity: 152 in favour, against 45, 5 abstentions.

That’s approval rates of 93%, 85%, and 75%, for each of the houses of bishops, clergy and laity, respectively.

This will have been the first vote of three.

From a CoE Twitter account:

about to take first of three votes on women bishops. first vote is on principle, second and third on enabling legislation

UPDATE:

Synod has also voted to amend canon legislation, meaning there will be no distinction between men and women in church law

- Guardian live blog

On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

- Thinking Anglicans

More, as further detail becomes available.

Some twitter commentary:

From ProfB 

Hey, it worked! Now I’m even more embarrassed to be Catholic! Thanks, Anglicans.

From 

After 500 years the has finally decided that two X chromosomes is not a barrier to leadership. Well done

In his first report from the synod, Andrew Brown quotes Tom Sutcliffe, previously opposed, who says that

the measure would now bring “episcopal femininity” that would enrich the church.

“To Have and to Hold” – Theology of Marriage Conference

A one-day conference on the theology of marriage in the light of equal marriage

London, September 27th 2014

Hosted by The LGBT Anglican Coalition

Recognising current unease in the Church of England over same-sex marriage, the conference will ask whether there is a theological basis for expanding the definition of marriage. If so, what might a theology of equal marriage include?

To Have and to Hold

Women Bishops: Approval by 100% of Dioceses!

Women bishops for the Church of England have come one step closer.

Bishop's Mitre

 

Anglican News reports:

The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday.  In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.

The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.

Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’ Continue reading Women Bishops: Approval by 100% of Dioceses!

Cornwall Supports Women Bishops.

Cornwall just became the latest Anglican diocese formally to endorse proposals for women bishops.

Truro Cathedral

 Diocesan synod is now almost complete, with sentiment thus far overwhelmingly in favour. Every synod that has already voted, has carried the motion, usually overwhelmingly, and in each of the three houses.  Overall, the useful chart at Peter Owen, which summarises the votes for all dioceses, now shows the cumulative votes so far for each of the three houses as:

  • Bishops:  55  (96%)  in favour, 2 against.
  • Clergy: 1205 (92%) in favour, 98 against.
  • Laity: 1362 (93%)  in favour, 100 against.

(For the detailed picture at each diocese, and the scheduled dates for those still outstanding, go to Peter Owen. )

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Church of England: “Retain Civil Partnerships”

When the UK government legislated for same – sex marriage last year, some unresolved issues remained around civil partnerships: would they disappear, or be retained as an alternative to marriage for same – sex couples? What would be the status of existing civil partnerships, would they be automatically converted to marriage, or would those couples have to take part in a deliberate conversion process? Should civil partnerships become available for opposite – sex couples, as a mark of full equality?

The government has been engaged in a public consultation process on these issues, for which the closing date is Thursday, April 17th.  The Church of England has now published its submission, which urges that these be retained as an option for same – sex couples, but should not be extended to opposite – sex couples.

civil-partners

The bishops state emphatically that they are in favour of retaining civil partnerships, essentially on the grounds of religious freedom: some people in these relationships will see same – sex marriage as in conflict with their religious beliefs :

…..abolishing civil partnership would pose an invidious choice for those who may, on grounds of religious conviction or for other reasons, not wish to enter a same sex marriage.

Whilst civil partnership and marriage confer effectively the same legal standing upon a relationship, there remain important differences. The differences are especially important for many Christians who accept the churches’ traditional teaching both on marriage and on sexual behaviour. As civil partnership is not marriage and also involves no presumption that the relationship is sexually active, it offers an important structure for the public validation of the relationship of a same sex couple who wish to live in accordance with the church’s traditional teaching. If civil partnership was to be abolished, such couples would be faced with the unjust choice of either marrying (which might conflict with their religious beliefs about the nature of marriage) or losing all public and legal recognition of their relationship.

On the other hand, the bishops do not wish to see any need to extend civil partnerships to opposite – sex couples.

We do not believe that a case has been made for extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. Our arguments for the retention of civil partnership are based on the need to maintain an option for those same sex couples who wish for proper recognition of their relationship but do not believe that their relationship is identical to “marriage”. It is much less clear what comparable disadvantage arises from the absence of opportunity for opposite sex couples to form civil partnerships.

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Catholid Priest Timothy Radcliffe’s Submission to the Cof E Inquiry into Human Sexuality.

The Pilling Report on the commission of the same name, purports to be an inquiry into “human sexuality”, but in practice, it deals primarily with one part of that rich diversity of what is meant by sexuality – that is, gay and lesbian sexuality.

The inquiry heard extensive submissions from a wide range of groups and individuals, reflecting a full range of opinion. One of these came from a senior Catholic priest, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, who was once the worldwide Master of the Dominican order.  With his permission, we are able to publish here, the text of his submission.

The Anglican Commission on Sexual Ethics

I feel very honoured to have this chance to share some thoughts on sexual ethics from a Catholic perspective. I must confess that I also feel rather unqualified.  I can make no claim to being a moral theologian.

It is frequently asserted that Christians are obsessed with sex, and with what we are or are not forbidden to do. But for most of the last two thousand years, Christianity has neither been especially fixated on sex, nor has it thought about it in terms of rules. Jesus says little about sexual ethics, except on divorce. Nor was it a central concern in the Middle Ages. Think of the two great classics of Medieval Christendom, the Summa Theologica of Aquinas and Dante’s Divina Commedia. Thomas had a positive view of our passions, including sexual desire. They are basically sound and good. They can go a bit astray and need education and the purification of grace. But sexual passion is good, and belongs to our journey towards God, the one whom we most deeply desire. Aquinas hardly ever refers to the commandments. Sexual morality is about becoming virtuous, not about obeying rules.

In Dante’s Inferno the top circles of Hell, where the punishments are lightest, are reserved for people who got carried away by their passions. They desired the good, but desired it wrongly. The really grave sins, for which people get a serious roasting, are telling lies, being violent and, worst of all, the betrayal of friends.

And it is only with the Reformation that we see the Ten Commandments placed at the centre of the moral life. The medieval stress on holiness as sharing the life of God is replaced with a new stress on obedience to rules. We see the rise of what Charles Taylor calls ‘the culture of control.[1]’ There is the emergence of the centralised state, absolute monarchs, standing armies, a police force, and the exponential growth of law. Human behaviour must be regulated and controlled. Sex must be disciplined!

I suspect that it is only with the Enlightenment that one sees the rise of our modern obsession with the regulation of sex. For example, it was at the beginning of the 18th century, according to Thomas Laquer that people began to worry in a big way about masturbation. There is a new hysteria about solitary sex.[2] What are people up to behind closed doors? So my suspicion is that both this obsession with sex and a stress on rules both relatively late and alien to traditional Christianity. Continue reading Catholid Priest Timothy Radcliffe’s Submission to the Cof E Inquiry into Human Sexuality.

CoE Bishops’ Statement on UK Same Sex Marriage – Not Truly “Pastoral”

In response to the imminent introduction of same – sex marriage in England, the Church of England House of Bishops has released a statement on suggestions for Anglicans to deal with the new situation, both for couples wanting church approval for their unions, and for lesbian or gay clergy wishing to marry. The document is called “‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’, but in the view of the CSCS trustees, expressed in this public statement, this document is

ANYTHING BUT PASTORAL!

CSCS calls on pro same-sex marriage Bishops to speak out 

The Centre for the Study of Christianity (CSCS) supports, unequivocally, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 which enables same-sex couples to celebrate equal civil marriage with effect, in England and Wales, from 29 March 2014. CSCS rejoices with sisters and brothers in Liberal and Reformed Judaism, the Society of Friends, and Unitarian Free Christian Churches who have opted-in, to enable such marriages to be celebrated on their premises. CSCS also recognises that amongst people of faith and none, diverse theological and ideological positions might be held regarding same-sex marriage.

 Following its Annual Conference, Redefining Marriage?, held in Birmingham on 15 February 2014, CSCS expresses serious concern at the possible impact of Church of England House of Bishops so-called ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’. This, and the letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, appear to pre-empt the process of facilitated conversation, listening and reflection, called for by the Pilling Report and referred to in the 27 January 2014 Statement from the College of Bishops. The House of Bishops latest statement sets down answers, even before many of the questions have been asked.

Any true pastoral process in the LGBT context should begin with a listening to, and analysis of, the lived experience of people of faith, particularly its LGBT members, their parents, spouses, and families. It should then proceed to reflect on this in the light of developing, and not fixed, understandings of scripture, tradition, and reason. The latter should not rely on un-reformed views of natural law but, discerning the signs of the times, encompass the insights of contemporary thinkers in the fields of gender, sexuality, anthropology and other human sciences. The House of Bishops’ Statement, and indeed the Pilling Report show little evidence of such engagement.

 The Bishops’ Statement, if taken as authoritative even for the time being, could lead to pastoral chaos, as well as unwarranted intrusion into the lives and consciences of Church of England laity and clergy. We call upon those Bishops of the Church of England who have hitherto expressed support for same-sex marriage to come out and clearly state whether the House of Bishops Statement of the 15 February 2014 is issued in their name and with their support. If it is not we urge them to disassociate themselves from the Statement, declining to implement its proposed policies and procedures in their Dioceses.

 

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Women Bishops for Wales, Ireland, South India, South Africa – Female Cardinals in Rome?

As we wait patiently for the Church of England finally to conclude its slow progress to the ordination of women bishops, there has been progress, elsewhere. The Church of Wales has voted by unexpectedly large margins to approve women bishops, the Church of Ireland which had previously approved women bishops in principle, sprang a surprise by announcing the first woman bishop for the British Isles, and almost unnoticed by the press, the Church of South India similarly announced its first woman bishop.  In South Africa, their 2013 synod was attended by their first two female bishops. An ever bigger surprise could just be in store from the Roman Catholic Church. In the wake of Pope Francis’ remarkable interview with the Jesuit publication Civita Cattolica, there was speculation in some Spanish and Italian papers that he could be preparing to include women not as priests, or as bishops, but as cardinals.

Such a move would be extraordinary, but is not entirely implausible. Commentary at El País and at Il Messaggero, available in English translation at Iglesia Descalza, notes that there is an inherent contradiction between Francis’ acceptance of the current Catholic orthodoxy that women cannot be ordained priests, and his equally clear acceptance that the Church is impoverished if we do not make adequate provision for full inclusion of women in the life of the Church.  This could be resolved symbolically, by including women as cardinals. Procedurally, this could be achieved in one of two ways, with relatively minor adjustments to current rules of discipline – not doctrine.

The more likely and more significant approach would be by admitting women as deacons. This would not be in conflict with any principle derived from the Bible, as defenders of the male priesthood claim that women priests would be, and there is abundant Biblical and historical evidence that women deacons were active in the early Christian communities. There are some Catholics who argue that their role was different to that of modern deacons, but even Pope Benedict acknowledged that the possibility of female deacons existed. Others believe that the necessary changes to church regulations could be implemented quite quickly. This would send a powerful initial signal of greater inclusion for women, and practice is likely to be taken up by substantial numbers of women religious and lay women. The really intriguing thing, is that it also opens up a path to women as cardinals. This is because although the usual career path to cardinals’ red hats is as priest, to bishop, archbishop and then cardinal, this is not the only one available. It is claimed technically, the minimum requirement for eligibility is no more than ordination as a deacon.

The other possible route to women cardinals, would be to revert to earlier practice, in which even the diaconate was not an essential precondition – there have in the past been laymen appointed as cardinals. If lay men, why not lay women? This too, could be achieved with a relatively simple change to the rules, but by affecting only those individuals so named, and not the much greater number admitted as deacons, would be more purely symbolic in value, and so both less useful, and less likely.

Some of the commentary along these lines has suggested, based on personal acquaintance with Pope Francis,that he is already thinking along these lines. Since this possibility was first mooted in the press, there has been feverish speculation that he could even name the first female cardinal in his first consistory, in February 2014. Such a move, certainly in the short term, would surprise me, and his in fact been flatly dismissed by the papal spokesman, Fr Lombardi. He did however agree that technically and legally, the possibility exists, and did not rule it out for future.This dramatic change will not come as early as next year, but there are good reasons for thinking that tor women, as for gays and lesbians, and for those who are divorced and remarried, under Francis, this is no longer the hostile church that it was under Benedict XVI and John Paul II. For inclusion of all, the tectonic plates of the church have shifted.

We see this most directly in the simple fact that this is being discussed at all. Under the previous two popes, there was a simple claim that women’s ordination was not possible, could not even be discussed, and that was an end of it. Benedict even dismissed Bishop Morrison of Australia, simply for suggesting that we should consider women’s ordination. .Francis has instead acknowledged that there are dangers in this kind of authoritarianism and certainty, that there must be dialogue with the whole church, reverting to the language of Vatican II of the church as “the people of God” and declaring unambiguously that we need to develop a new theology of women that ensure them a rightful place in the church, that we can hear their voices.

Others would respond that there is no need for a “new” theology of women, that outside the ivory towers of the Vatican, a substantial, credible theology of women already exists. What is needed, is simply that the present all-male establishment take proper note. The genie is out of the bottle, and will not return. We know that a substantial proportion of Catholics support married clergy, and want at least to discuss seriously how to create greater inclusion for women, as priests or otherwise. The voices that under Benedict and John Paul were cowed into silence, will hold their tongues no longer. Encouraged by Francis’ call for dialogue, we should now expect to hear a great deal more thoughtful commentary, and proposals, on a stronger place for Catholic women.  Up to now, the Catholic Church has lagged far behind other denominations in this respect, but at last it is at least beginning to catch up.

It may be wishful thinking to hope for women cardinals (or even deacons) any time soon, but it is no longer entirely fanciful to look ahead to some future date when a pope, opening a general council of the church (in Sao Paolo? or Manila?) may be accompanied by her wife.

Terry Weldon

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