Saturday, 24 March 2007

Telegraph Opinion: It's all over for the Archbishop

Rowan Williams is finished as Archbishop of Canterbury. His authority has been utterly destroyed by the decision of the American bishops to reject his scheme to hold together the Anglican Communion.

If there is a Lambeth Conference next year – and it is hard to see how there can be, if its American bankrollers are kicked out – then I shall be very surprised if he presides over it. Read more

Friday, 23 March 2007

RC agencies could beat SORs

Roman Catholic adoption agencies could break away from the state to avoid being shut down under gay rights laws.

Agencies could continue to refuse to place children with gay couples if they stop taking money from the Government and become a private body, it has emerged. Read more

Back to Church Sunday

Back to Church Sunday website

From the Bishop of Chelmsford’s recent ad clerum:

“A number of dioceses have been supporting Back to Church Sunday with the advice of the Mission and Parish Development Advisory Group. We have decided to encourage support for this across the diocese. It has been a big success elsewhere and, I am told, is easy to do! This year 30 September has been designated as ‘Back to Church Sunday’. Lots of good resources will be available and Canon Penny Horseman and Barry Hobson have good experience of this initiative from which they will help us all.”

In the Berkshire Archdeaconry 600 people responded on 'Back to Church Sunday' in 2006. See this report from a local church. See also this article on the CofE website from 2006. The Wakefield Diocese has this information and also an ideas package. Derby Diocese has this page.

Other links include:

Ephraim Radner: No place left for Conservatives in TEC

[...] The bishops of TEC are convinced that their policies of gay inclusion are non-negotiable, and even the Presiding Bishop has made clear that there is “no going back” on actions and commitments made on this score. The clarity of the bishops’ and Executive Council’s and General Convention’s statements around this subject give the lie to any claim that TEC’s leadership is interested in “listening”, let alone learning from the rest of the Communion, or that they perceive their commitments even to be a part of some “reception” process of testing. They have made their decision regarding the absolute imperative of the Gospel on this score (as they see it), and no amount of conferences and dialogues on biblical “hermeneutics” and “cultural perspectives” will budge them from their perceived duty. Those within the church who disagree may be granted some measure of space to live out their ministries (although who knows?); but it has now been made very clear that they have no standing to oppose, for their views have been judged illegitimate. There is no place to go, in their view, but either towards an embrace of their now settled convictions, or away to the fading margins of their domain. Read more

Greg Venables: separation of TEC should come as soon as possible

[...] It is not possible to maintain relationship when one party unilaterally and coldly departs from previously agreed foundations. Now we must move to separation as quickly and as gracefully as possible. Of course, the realignment must take into account those in the United States who remain committed to historic teaching and Biblical Truth as it has been handed down. To limit further needless damage, may God have mercy on the Anglican Communion and help us come to resolution quickly. Read more

Retired bishop to be tried by TEC court

A panel of bishops will proceed with an ecclesiastical trial of the Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, retired Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, on charges that he illegally performed sacramental acts without the permission of the local Episcopal bishop. News of the trial was announced during the March 16-21 meeting of the House of Bishops.

In June 2005, Bishop Cox, 86, ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kan., after he was asked by the Primate of Uganda. The following month, Bishop Cox returned to Christ Church and led a service of confirmation. Read more

Bishops Slammed as Just 3 Attend Crucial Lords Vote on Gay Regulations

Twenty-three Church of England bishops have been fiercely criticised this week for not attending a crucial House of Lords vote on controversial new gay rights regulations, which faith groups across the country have strongly opposed.

In total 26 bishops automatically sit in on the House of Lords – a privilege which has come under media scrutiny over the past months – yet just 3 attended the vote; Christians across Britain have been left outraged by the meagre turn-out.

Anthony Archer, a Synod member of the Crown Nominations Committee had written to all 26 bishops encouraging them to vote against the Regulations (SORs), according to the Church of England newspaper. He reported that the 23 bishops had not helped justify their purpose for sitting in the House of Lords. Read more

Article (John Richardson): Llittle by little, freedom disappears

[...] Freedom of conscience, and freedom to practice one’s religion, stand not as obstacles in the way of progress but as necessary bulwarks against a new kind of totalitarianism, which began with the little things but now seeks control of the whole of life.

I am reminded how, in Nazi Germany, the persecution of the Jews originally seemed ‘acceptable’ even to some Jews. A little restriction here and a little inconvenience there was only an extension of what they were used to. Surely a compromise would eventually be reached?

Similarly, a recent survey has shown that Christians in the UK feel themselves to be discriminated against, at work, in the media and even in local government. But according to one episcopal spokesman this is only because they are more aware of things through the media, not because there is a real problem.

One day, perhaps soon, we will know who was right. Read more

Blair proud of gay rights record

Tony Blair has said he is proud of his achievements on gay rights while prime minister, and that Britain has had a cultural change since 1997.

Addressing campaign group Stonewall, Mr Blair said civil partnerships had had a "civilising effect" which reached beyond the gay community.

He said the first civil partnerships had given him a lot of pride and joy. Read more

Mugabe faces revolt from police and RC church

It was a cloak-and-dagger meeting. The senior officer in Robert Mugabe’s police force did not try to hide his nervousness as he spoke. He would be killed if he was identified in any way, he told The Times. Martin Fletcher has spent the past week travelling secretly around Zimbabwe, where he found a nation riven by economic and social breakdown, and where he heard more and more calls for a popular uprising. Read more

Under-18s who leave school to be fined

Ed: Reminds me of a tee shirt I saw in Singapore: "Singapore - it's a fine city. $100 chewing gum. $200 dropping litter." etc. The difference is, Singapore was clean.

Teenagers starting secondary school next year will be the first to face fines or possible criminal prosecution if they fail to stay on in education or training until they are 18.

A Green Paper published by the Education Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday makes it clear £50 fixed penalty notices will be issued to drop-outs - with the threat of court proceedings if they fail to pay. Read more

Telegraph: Communion 'no more'

The Archbishop of Canterbury's plan to save the Anglican Communion lies in near ruins.

The American bishops have rejected Dr Rowan Williams's scheme - endorsed by Anglican primates in Tanzania last month - to create a traditionalist enclave for conservatives opposed to liberal bishops. They are also unlikely to promise not to enthrone any more homosexual bishops or bless same-sex unions.

And they have set out their opinions in stinging language: not only is the Archbishop accused of promoting a "spiritually unsound" project, but it is also implied that he is behaving like a British colonialist. Read more

David Virtue: Who will blink first?

[...] The root of the issue now is who will blink first. Will the TEC announce that it will no longer do business with the Anglican Communion unless it is on their terms, or will the Global South move to strike itself away from the TEC, leaving Dr. Rowan Williams to decide who he will side with. It would seem that the Windsor Bishops have decided to go with the majority of the HOB which leaves only the Network bishops to decide how they will decide. As of going to cyber press Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan had not issued a statement, however he did tell a reporter with the New York Times as he exited the meeting, "I'm really thinking through what all this means." Read more

Church Times: US bishops wish ‘passionately’ to stay in Communion

Bishops in the United States have rejected the scheme for pastoral oversight for dissenting congregations proposed by the Primates in Tanzania last month. They have asked for an urgent meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates’ Standing Committee.

Meeting in Texas this week, they declared their “passionate desire” to remain in full constituent membership of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church in the United States, as part of a family of Churches “all of whom share a common mother in the Church of England”. Read more

Gay People's Chronicle: Episcopal bishops reject Anglican leaders' ultimatum

“Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.”

That statement, part of a resolution released by a private meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church on March 20, may be the “shot heard ’round the world” about the church’s pro-gay stances.

It could result in a lessening of the U.S. church’s role in the Anglican Communion, the worldwide body of national churches that grew out of King Henry VIII’s Church of England, or in a complete separation. Read more

Bishops comment on invitation to Archbishop of Canterbury, other actions

In a news conference on March 21 that immediately followed the semi-annual meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops near Houston, Texas, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that a meeting with Archbishop Rowan Williams and members of the Primates' Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is crucial in the mind of many bishops.

"I think that the bishops of the Episcopal Church very much want Rowan Williams and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee to hear directly from us about our concern for all members of this church, those we agree with theologically and those with whom we disagree, gay and lesbian members of our church and those who find it difficult to countenance blessing unions or ordaining gay and lesbian people. Read more

Cameron: 'I don't have a direct line to God'

David Cameron is a practising Christian but does not have a "direct line" to God, he admits today.

The Conservative leader, who plans to send his daughter to a local Church of England faith school near his west London home, said his faith was a "very private thing". "I am a participating member of the Church of England. I'll put it that way.

"I have a faith, it's important, but not something I wear on my sleeve. I've always said I believe in God, but I don't think I have a direct line," he told the Jewish Chronicle. Mr Cameron underlined his support for faith schools, saying they played an important role in the community. Read more

Charities pay price of cut in tax base rate

Cutting the basic rate of income tax to 20 per cent has left charities nursing a £71 million headache.

Charities' groups said they would be talking to the Treasury to try to find a way out of the problem.

Charities reclaim about £625 million a year at the 22 per cent basic rate of income tax through the gift aid system. The cut to 20 per cent could see this fall to £554 million.

Oxfam will lose £1.8 million a year while the bill is likely to leave the Church of England up to £7 million out of pocket. Read more

Thursday, 22 March 2007

How about this for an anti-knife campaign slogan?

Murder - all it takes is a little prick with a knife.

(Ed: I hope no-one is offended by this! I take the view that changing the knife-carrying culture may need to dispel the admiration of knife-carriers as tough.)

LGCM: 'Canterbury appeasement has collapsed'

The bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States of America have made it clear they would not wish The Episcopal Church to follow the recommendations of the Dar es Salaam Anglican Primates Communiqué, issued last month.

In three resolutions passed by the House of Bishops dated 20th March 2007 the bishops urge the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church (the body with overall power between their triennial Conventions) to reject the requests of the Primates of the Anglican Communion for a new Pastoral Scheme in their Church to cater for a dissident minority within TEC. Read more

Sydney Anglicans' warning on Greens' support for gays

THE powerful Sydney Anglican diocese has intervened in the state election campaign, suggesting a vote for the Greens could force schools and religious organisations to employ gays and lesbian teachers in contradiction of their Christian ethics.

The diocese has taken issue with the Greens' support for laws permitting civil unions for same-sex and transgender couples and the party's pledge to prevent private schools and religious organisations discriminating against workers. Read more

3 out of 26 bishops voted on SORs

Just 3 out of the 26 unelected bishops that sit in the House of Lords voted last night over the government's Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) apparently resisting calls from conservatives and traditionalists that they should all turn up to oppose them.

Forty-two lay members of the Church of England's General Synod wrote to the bishops last week urging them to turn up and vote against the SORs.

In the end, even if all the bishops had voted, it would not have changed the result. Read more

TEC House of Bishops opposes divorce, supports permanence in marriage

[...] The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them.

Read the full statement here.

Ed: Yes, I know I've made this point before, but I just thought I'd have some fun highlighting the nonsense TEC's HoB is prepared to spout in their own defence. Gene Robinson's once-divorced once-re-partnered record pales into insignificance compared with the Bishop of North Carolina's twice-divorced thrice-married track record.

14-year olds given condoms at school

My daughter came home from school with a goody bag. Someone’s birthday, perhaps? No. In the pink paper bag were two condoms. She is 14. Read more

Times: Anglicans closer to schism as US bishops reject gay ultimatum

The Anglican Church took another step towards its apparently inevitable schism when US Episcopal bishops rejected the ultimatum from primates of the Anglican Communion to fall into line over homosexuals. Read more

Guardian: US rejects Anglican ultimatum

The worldwide Anglican church was facing its long-awaited split last night after the bishops of the US Episcopal church firmly rejected an ultimatum, proposed at a meeting of Anglican leaders in Tanzania last month, to allow American conservatives to have their own leadership because of opposition to their church's liberal stance on homosexuality. Read more

SORs represent 'imposition of a new morality'

THE vote by 168 to 122 in the House of Lord’s tonight in favour of the Government’s Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) marks the imposition of a new morality.

It is a clear sign that despite saying they were going to consult and listen the Government has failed to respect the consciences of citizens whose values are formed and shaped by their deeply held religious beliefs, be they Christian, Muslim or Jewish. This could have been easily resolved by a simple conscience clause. Read more

Sentamu speaks in Lords against SORs

[...] My Lords, I fear that we are in danger of losing the formative Christian inheritance and foundation of this great nation; a foundation upon which our laws, society and culture have been built, but which is in danger of being undermined.

I, like William Wilberforce, fear that “The time is fast approaching when Christianity will be openly disavowed, in language as in fact it is already supposed to have disappeared from the conduct of men: when to believe will be deemed the indication of a feeble mind and contracted understanding.” Read more

Roy Hattersley calls for disestablishment

Last Monday Lord Carey of Clifton — the former Archbishop of Canterbury — told The Times that if Parliament insisted that all adoption agencies must end discrimination against gay couples, the Church of England should demand to be disestablished. What a good idea! And how refreshing that a retired primate, not notable during his years in office for intellectual originality, should promote such a progressive notion in so elegant a fashion. By arguing that Parliament has a duty to respond to the demands of the Church that is its constitutional partner, he provided a vivid example of why the partnership should be dissolved. Read more

Open Evangelical says Church of England should be 'more than evangelical but not less'

The traditional phrase used to describe the Church of England is 'Catholic and Reformed'. Too often the middle word 'and' passes unnoticed. Connecting words are crucial, humble and worth contemplating. They introduce links between polarities by contributing 'threeness' to 'duality'. Try replacing 'and' with the word 'or' and you will see its significance. Maybe we could capitalize on the word 'and' by giving it a capital letter 'And'? But that would detract from its humility and deflect its distinction. Read more

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Episcopalians brace for possible church split

Episcopalians across the country reacted today to news that Episcopal bishops appeared to be taking steps toward rejecting several demands made by top Anglicans of the American church, steps that could push the two bodies toward a formal split.

The bishops were to hold a 1:30 p.m. PDT news conference today to explain Tuesday's decision to refuse a demand by Anglican leaders that they provide a special vicar for orthodox congregations and dioceses that oppose the Episcopal Church's positions on issues of homosexuality and biblical teaching. The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the world's third-largest Christian denomination with 77 million members.

The bishops, who have been meeting privately in a retreat near Houston this week, also requested an urgent meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion. Read more

Integrity USA applauds TEC bishops' "strong stand" against the Anglican Primates'

Integrity is gratified by the strongly worded resolutions passed yesterday by the House of Bishops. "The bishops have offered the church a way forward that affirms both its commitment to the Anglican Communion and its commitment to the gay and lesbian baptized," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "It is a sign of both health and hope for all Episcopalians that the bishops have refused to be blackmailed into abandoning the historic polity of the Episcopal Church by threats of institutional exclusion from the Anglican Communion. For gay and lesbian people, the bishops' actions bring us closer to turning the church's 1976 commitment to a 'full and equal claim' from a resolution to a reality." Read more

Gene Robinson on the rejection of the Primatial Vicar

I write to you on the last day of the week-long meeting of the House of Bishops, in Navasota, Texas. While an official “word to the church” will come from the House as a whole, at the conclusion of our meeting, news of actions taken yesterday at our business session will be appearing today. I want you to have my own reactions to go along with what you will read. Read more

Schools set to vaccinate pupils against sexually-transmitted diseases

Schoolchildren should be given up to six new vaccines to fight diseases, medical experts have said.

Three would tackle sexually-transmitted infections, which critics claimed could encourage even more risky sexual behaviour. Read more

Human Rights court censures Poland for denying 'abortion rights'

The European court of human rights ruled yesterday that Poland was failing to guarantee access to lawful abortions in a test case hailed as a victory for women across Europe and a blow to the deeply conservative government in Warsaw.

The Strasbourg-based court awarded damages to Alicia Tysiac, 35, a single mother of three from Warsaw who is nearly blind. She sued the Polish government after being denied an abortion in 2000 despite medical testimony that her pregnancy would seriously impair her failing eyesight. Read more

Letter to the Times on SORs

Letters to the Times on SORs.

Letters from the Prolocutors (senior clergy in Synod) for Canterbury and York here.

TEC bishops request meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates' Standing Committee

Responding to the recent Anglican Primates' Communiqué, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, meeting March 20 in Navasota, Texas, expressed "an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee."

The request came as the second of three "mind of the house" resolutions adopted by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions [full texts here] were debated during the business session scheduled during the House of Bishops' annual spring retreat meeting. Read more

Gay adoption vote due for Lords

New rules requiring religious adoption agencies to accept gay couples as adoptive parents are due to be debated in the House of Lords.

Church leaders say Parliament has not had enough time to debate the changes, part of the new Equality Act. Read more

Bishops Reject Primates' 'Ultimatum'

Ed: Perhaps the most bizarre line in this statement is this one:

"The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them."

This from a House which contains a number of divorced people, not least Gene Robinson himself. Await a suitable act of contrition - not.

The House of Bishops has declined to participate in a pastoral initiative designed by the primates to care for congregations and dioceses which for reasons of conscience cannot accept the episcopal ministry of their bishop or primate.

“We understand that the present situation requires intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the actions of our General Convention,” the bishops said. “We pledge ourselves to continue to work with them toward a workable arrangement. In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope.” Read more

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

March 25 is Freedom Day in Chelmsford Cathedral

Chelmsford Cathedral will mark the bi-centenary of the abolition of the slave trade this Sunday March 25 in a special service called “Set All Free” with dancing, drums and African instruments.

The Cathedral choir will sing spirituals together with music written by talented musicians who were freed slaves. Read more

Gay adoption rules 'rail-roaded' through parliament

The government has been accused of "rail-roading" through gay equality laws that, Catholic adoption agencies argue, will force them to close.

Some Tory MPs criticised the "unseemly haste" with which ministers sought to pass regulations through Parliament. Read more

Ancient creatures are 'evolutionary scandal'

Creatures that have abstained from sex for up to 100 million years are giving evolutionary scientists a headache.

Sex is not just important for reproduction - it helps scramble genes much more quickly than random DNA mutations and helps new species to evolve and emerge as the environment changes.

But there here is one ugly fact in the way of this beautiful theory: the bdelloid rotifers, a strange group of translucent organisms that abandoned sex long ago, a state of affairs once denounced as an “evolutionary scandal’ by the late and great biologist Prof John Maynard Smith. Read more

Florida Bishop rejects Panel of Reference peace move

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, has rejected a “good neighbor” episcopal ministry plan proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference. The report, which required almost two years of “hard and painstaking work,” was in response to an appeal made by the rector and vestry of Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville.

The report, which was released to the public on March 16, called for Church of the Redeemer to return to the oversight of Bishop Howard and to active participation in the fiscal and corporate life of the diocese. In return, Bishop Howard was asked to lift canonical sanctions against the clergy, end litigation, and permit alternate episcopal oversight for the parish from a neighboring Episcopal bishop acceptable to both the parish and the diocese. Read more

Chaplain's priority is listening to workers

WHEN people think of the clergy, they think of churches - but nowadays, there is a new breed of priest who is as much a familiar sight in shops and offices as in the pulpit or pews.

Industrial chaplains visit or are based in places where people work, and they can be found not only on the shopfloor, but at airports, court buildings and even Premiership football clubs.

Their job is simple - to provide workers with the chance to talk confidentially about job-related or personal problems. Some even sit in on meetings with employees and their bosses. Read more

American money preventing Anglican split

As leaders of the Anglican Communion hold meeting after meeting to debate severing ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States for consecrating an openly gay bishop, one of the unspoken complications is just who has been paying the bills.

The truth is, the Episcopal Church bankrolls much of the Communion’s operations. And a cutoff of that money, while unlikely at this time, could deal the Communion a devastating blow. Read more

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Changing Attitude report suggested 'sex is for friends'

[...] LGBT sexualities are part of the prodigal range of potential and variety in God’s creation.

This inclusive approach to current manifestations of new patterns of intimacy and visible sexual lifestyles in the West implies a belief in the continuing revelation of sexual truths by the Holy Spirit. This is our eschatological connection, via our recognition of the provisional nature and developing forms of human sexuality until all is gathered up at the Parousia.

We consider that the evident difficulty of the religious ‘right’ (both catholic and protestant) in accepting that LGBT sexualities are God-given must be more to do with historical attitudes in our cultural traditions and with individual and social prejudice than with discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in our times. Fundamentalist adherence to selective and literalist interpretations of scriptural texts about sexual behaviour seem to stem from fear of what might follow if the validity of sexual relationships outside marriage was accepted by the churches; a major consequence might be the final collapse of any rationale for insisting that the letter of scripture can be used like a rule book.


There is often an implicit assumption in using the words ‘faithfulness’ and ‘commitment’ in this discussion that we are always talking about sexual relationships persisting over a long period of time. And of course time provides the vital conditions for development, change and growth. To be committed is to take things seriously. It is to say ‘Tomorrow I will be here as well as today, which means that we have time. Time for facing up to the reality of each other. I am not going to run away (from you or myself).’ However, the biblical theme is primarily about the overwhelming demand to remain faithful to our covenantal relationship with God through the Spirit (which, as the gospels warn, may challenge conventional family obligations)Thus while it is clear to us as LGBTs when we survey the gay scene, and indeed much of contemporary social life, that casual sex can often be addictive and destructive, we think it is important to remain open to the possibility that brief and loving sexual engagement between mature adults in special circumstances can be occasions of grace. Risky, but then as Paul Tillich said ‘A Christian is safest taking risks!’

The exploration of our sexual selves can be something which benefits from involvement with more than one person. Sexual involvement does not necessarily involve any greater psychic risk to a person than does emotional involvement (though the two are deeply intertwined). We recognise that people fall in love, become involved, get hurt, experience love not reciprocated or mutuality achieved. All this is an inevitable and appropriate part of the process of finding a life partner; becoming sexually involved can be part of the process and may well cause less damage and pain than the emotional dimension.


A ‘friendship’ matrix might look like this:-

• Friendship with self as the fundamental building block of all relating. Religious and mystical traditions tend to locate our basic connection with the divine here. Self-pleasuring, sexual and otherwise, is an integral element.

• Friendships with individuals. All friendships rely on a certain amount of trust, creativity and mutual benefit to persist. In this sense they can be seen as covenantal. As marriage includes a legal contract, other forms of partnership, including same-sex arrangements,might involve public and/or legal commitments. There is a strong case for this around child rearing, and the civil rights movement has established a further range of compelling grounds for legislative changes now in prospect. All friendships probably use erotic energy. Whether or not they include sexual expression is a matter for the discretion of those concerned, based on the complex of considerations we outline below – particularly balancing the destructiveness of sexual jealousy against the enriching potential of variety.

• Friendship as group membership. Groups may be informal, perhaps sharing an interest; for the young, gangs often express this urge to belong. Groups can exert a very powerful emotional hold and rely on the same covenantal virtues to continue as positive influences. Often groups have a more or less recognised erotic charge, e.g. sports teams. Structured groups are often part of life at schools, colleges, churches, work places, pubs, clubs etc. Sexual relationships that develop via group involvements would also be measured against the ‘Rights and Wrongs’ below

• Friendship expressed through commitment to causes, professions and passionate interests. At first sight this level might seem a bit abstract to be subsumed under friendship. However this is the mode through which a celibate priesthood has been expected to sublimate and to invest sexual energy. Same-sex communities harness the same erotic dimension. Membership of professional bodies typically involves assent to codes of conduct that echo ‘covenantal’ principles.

• Friendship with God. The various christian traditions would emphasise the importance of different points in the above matrix for our encounter with the offer of God’s friendship. Our view is that it is helpful to think of relating to God’s friendly otherness through the mediation of all these modes of friendship together – holistically, in fact.


Ethical sexual relations should involve:-

• Respect for the integrity of self and others, i.e. free consent to sex; no serious physical hurt or harm; understanding and use of safe sex.

• Consideration for the cultural background of others and where they are coming from. This includes the balance of relative power and control between men and women, and between different age groups, as well as ethnic, national considerations, etc..

• Sensitivity to the role of power in sex. Thus it is always the adult’s responsibility to hold and respect the boundary which outlaws sex with children; the customary prohibited degrees of incest are also a protection against the sexual abuse of power in the family.

• Realistic assessment of any consequences of starting a new sexual relationship on existing commitments of both parties. Respect for existing partnerships and friendships. A realistic assessment of the likely effects of the jealousy factor on all involved.

• As much honesty and clarity as possible about intention and freedom to act of both parties, especially where dependents are involved.

• Recognition of the significance of practicalities like time, money, location, health, etc.

• Respect for the secular law, and for prevailing social norms.

Download the full document.

UK Christians feel discriminated against

A new survey has revealed that a third of Christians in the UK think that the way they are portrayed in the media amounts to discrimination. And a quarter of Christians said they thought that people who shared their faith experienced discrimination from colleagues in the workplace. Read more

Poll results here.

'Disestablish Church' says Carey

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has told me this week that the Church of England must push for disestablishment if the Government opts for a wholly-elected second chamber. Read more

Where is our Orwell, where is our Dickens?

Who's doing the thinking these days? Well, there's Matthew Taylor, former chief policy adviser at Number 10 and now head of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, who has much to say on citizenship. Unfortunately, it extrudes from his laptop, falling with the lightness of touch, clarity and elegance of mind found in a manual for a domestic boiler. Read more

The madness of the mortgage market

A torturing of the English language preceded the crash in the US mortgage market. Finances houses offered 'sub-prime' mortgages to anyone who wanted them. 'Sub-prime', like 'sub-optimal', is a euphemism for 'terrible'. The mortgage sales teams didn't mean that their products were terrible, although often they were, but that the borrowers weren't of prime quality - terribly risky, in short. They were poor serial debtors or once comfortable people who had become too old to realise that they were signing away valuable assets when they remortgaged their homes. Read more

The sexual health map of our cities

A remarkable breakdown of England's sexual health, detailed for the first time here in this map, shows a startling spread of diseases around the country, with high concentrations of infection around ports and in inner cities.

The map, produced using a borough-by-borough breakdown of sexually transmitted diseases around England, charts the rise of diseases such as chlamydia and genital warts and shows big rises across the country.

The figures show that the London borough of Camden is also the chlamydia capital of England, while Liverpool leads the country in genital warts. The breakdown reveals near epidemic levels in some areas. Read more

My Homosexual Agenda is Jesus, Bishop Declares

An openly homosexual Episcopal bishop from New Hampshire Wednesday asserted that the "500-year experiment in Anglicanism is being tested right now." The election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003 prompted some Episcopal parishes in the U.S. to leave the worldwide Anglican Church.

During a panel discussion hosted Wednesday by the Washington Region for Justice and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., Robinson said "you see a mainline denomination risking its life for some people on the margins."

"It is my great privilege to be a small part of that," he added. Read more

Gay bishop says coming out is God at work

The openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, has robustly defended his position.

At a public meeting in Washington DC Bishop Robinson claimed that of the nearly 8000 parishes in the American Episcopal Church, only 47 have sought guidance from outside bishops after his ordination.

"If you want to know my homosexual agenda, it's Jesus," Bishop Robinson said, according to Read more

Church to study rural role

A Government adviser on the rural economy is to address church leaders in Yorkshire this weekend as they debate whether to put more resources into village churches as part of a new countryside strategy. Read more

Church of England's First Sport Ambassador Appointed

The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham’s new Sport Ambassador has recently been appointed.

25-year-old rugby player Tim Friend, with a passion for sharing his faith, is currently working in Gloucestershire in a youth sports ministry role for an ecumenical church project, which will take up the new post on 1 January 2008.

Friend will be the first Sport Ambassador for the Church of England, backed by a special Mission Fund set up by the diocese. Read more

Church of Sweden Open to Gay 'Marriage' Ceremonies

Sweden's Lutheran Church is willing to "marry" gay couples in church if the government decides to make same-sex weddings legal, a spokesman for the Swedish Church Assembly said Friday.

Since 1994, Sweden has recognized civil unions between homosexual couples, but marriage in the traditional sense has remained illegal. On Wednesday next week, however, a government-appointed committee will present a report on whether the law allowing civil unions between homosexuals should be changed to also include marriage. Read more

'Three Little Pigs' Returns to Church of England School

Organisers of a junior school production of the popular children’s story the ‘Three Little Pigs’ were given the go-ahead for the three little pigs to appear, after they were replaced with three little puppies over fears they might offend Muslims.

Due to the multi-cultural nature of the youngsters involved and their parents in the audience, organisers of the Kirklees Primary Music Festival event have previously altered the popular characters and lyrics.

The original plan was to change the pig tale to ‘Three Little Puppies’.

Now Kirklees Council has stepped in to allow the pigs a reprieve, the BBC reports. Read more

Swedish bishops say yes to gay church weddings

The Church of Sweden's leaders have said that they are willing to allow gay people to marry in church on the same basis as heterosexual couples, although bishops are unsure whether to call the unions marriage.

"We are prepared to carry out partnerships for homosexuals that have the force of law," said Bishop Claes-Bertil Ytterberg of the church's Västerås diocese. Read more