Tuesday, 21 May 2013
House of Bishops statement on Safeguarding
The following statement was released tonight (scroll down).
Statement on Safeguarding from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013
In its discussions on the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults during its meeting in York, the House of Bishops recognised the critical nature of safeguarding, discussed past failures and committed itself to a step-change in the way it is practised so as to enable the Church to fulfil its vocation as a place of safety for all. The House committed itself to creating a climate of transparency and trust with profound listening to survivors of past clerical and ecclesiastical abuse.
The House of Bishops considered the report and recommendations of the report of John Gladwin and Rupert Bursell QC to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Diocese of Chichester and repeated the continuing best practise of the Church - as contained in current guidelines from 2004 - that there remains a duty on all clergy to report to relevant authorities and the police any allegation of abuse from a child or vulnerable adult.
Whilst supporting the continuing good work of diocesan child protection officers and the best practise of safeguarding guidelines currently in operation in the Church, there was also a recognition that there was no room for complacency particularly at a time when cases from past decades were being brought to light.
These steps included the undertaking of an audit of safeguarding provision in every diocese, the review of risk assessment procedures and the review and development of national core materials for safeguarding training. These measures will be accompanied by further work on proposals for legislative change which will be brought to the Archbishops’ Council.
House of Bishops statement on Women in the Episcopate
The following statement has been released tonight.
Statement on Women in the Episcopate from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013
At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.
In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod’s rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.
The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.
The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House’s recommendations to the General Synod. The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.
The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House’s decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate.
House of Commons passes Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
The House of Commons completed the Report stage and then voted at Third Reading in favour of the bill as then amended. The Third Reading vote was: 366 for, 161 against.
That compares with the Second Reading vote: 400 for, 175 against.
Uncorrected Hansard available here (will be replaced by final version in the morning).
The bill now goes to the House of Lords where it is likely to have its first vote at its Second Reading at the beginning of June.
Monday, 20 May 2013
Church of Scotland votes on allowing gay clergy
Updated Tuesday morning
The official news release from the Church of Scotland is headed Church finds common ground in sexuality debate.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in a groundbreaking decision called for the Church to maintain its historic doctrine in relation to human sexuality but, in line with the Kirk’s historic position of allowing congregations to call their own minister, to permit an individual Kirk Session to call a minister in a civil partnership if it chooses to do so.
The Legal Questions Committee and the Theological Forum will bring reports to next year’s General Assembly about how this will be achieved. In the meantime courts and committees of the General Assembly will maintain the status quo…
The Associated Press reports: Church of Scotland takes step to allow gay clergy
Senior members of the Church of Scotland voted Monday to let some congregations choose ministers who are in same-sex relationships — an important compromise that must still pass further hurdles before it can become church law.
The church’s General Assembly backed a motion affirming a traditional conservative view on homosexuality, but permitted liberal congregations to ordain openly gay men or women if they wish.
The assembly’s vote would require the approval of next year’s General Assembly as well as votes by the church’s regional presbyteries to become law. The process is complicated, and is expected to take at least two years.
There is a discussion of what occurred today by Kelvin Holdsworth at Church of Scotland Debate.
…Three proposals emerged. The first two were in the report itself and labelled rather unsatisfactorily as the Revisionist (option A) and the Traditionalist (option B) position. Option A allows what tends to be called a mixed economy by which that church could eventually allow ministers in civil partnerships to be appointed to churches and gay couples in civil partnerships to be allowed to have their partnerships blessed. Option B would not though anyone who happened to be in a Civil Partnership already would probably not be hounded out of their ministry but no new minister in a civil partnership could be inducted or ordained. The third position emerged during the day and was moved in the name of Albert Bogle. (Confusingly it was option D – another motion C had been proposed and then was withdrawn during the process). This option D was a proposal to reaffirm the traditionalist view on these matters whilst allowing individual Kirk Sessions to opt to do as they like and chose such a minister anyway.
In each case, these were not final votes. The procedures of the Church of Scotland mean that where there are significant changes accepted by a General Assembly they then have to be put to the presbyteries of the church. The final position only emerges if a majority of presbyteries concur during the subsequent year and also the next General Assembly confirms the vote. (If a majority of the presbyteries do not concur then the process fails)…
Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has more explanation: Church of Scotland votes to induct or ordain civil partners – but not yet and includes a link to the full wording of what was agreed.
The result of the Deliverance as amended by the countermotion is that instead of the change of position with an opt-out for “Traditionalists”, the Assembly have voted to maintain the status quo but with an opt-in for “Revisionists” – a very subtle shift of emphasis in the hope, no doubt, that it will keep the Church together.
As to further proceedings, if I understand the position correctly the next move is for the Committee on Legal Questions to draft an Overture to be considered by the General Assembly of 2014 which, if approved, will be sent down to the presbyteries under the Barrier Act 1697 because the terms of the Overture will engage an issue of “doctrine or worship or discipline”. If my assumption is correct (and if I’m wrong and there’s a Scots church lawyer who can correct me, please, please don’t hesitate to do so) the change will only be implemented if a majority of presbyteries approve the proposal and the General Assembly confirms it in 2015.
Progress at Report stage of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
None of the hostile amendments to the bill that were voted on so far survived the first of two days of debate at Report stage.
Early media reports:
The gay marriage bill has been saved after Ed Miliband agreed at the last minute to vote against an amendment to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples that had prompted government warnings that it would derail the entire measure.
The Labour leader, who had planned to abstain in a Commons vote on the amendment, agreed to change tack after the government chief whip Sir George Young sent a message to his opposition counterparts that the Tory leadership was facing defeat.
The move meant that the amendment, tabled by the anti-gay marriage Tory, former children’s minister Tim Loughton, was defeated by 375 to 70 votes, a majority of 305…
Moves to legalise gay marriage cleared a crucial parliamentary hurdle as it emerged that civil partnerships could be abolished as the price for getting David Cameron’s plans on to the statute book.
A wrecking amendment tabled by Conservative opponents of same-sex marriage was defeated by 375 to 70 votes after the Tory front bench was supported by the vast majority of Labour and Liberal Democrats.
As the Commons debated the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Labour threw Mr Cameron a lifeline in his latest battle with Tory right-wingers. He faced the prospect of losing the vote on the wrecking amendment, which could have delayed the introduction of gay marriage until after the election…
The Hansard record of yesterday’s debate is available, starting here.
Some of the key voting figures:
To accept Maria Miller’s new clause 16 providing for a detailed study of Civil Partnerships: 391 for, 57 against.
Amended to do so immediately by Kate Green’s “manuscript amendment: approved by voice vote.
To accept Tim Laughton’s new clauses 10 and 11: 70 for, 375 against.
To provide marriage registrars with an option for conscientious objection: 150 for, 340 against.
Amendment to Equality Act 2010 to make belief in traditional marriage a protected characteristic: 148 for, 339 against.
Amendment to define the meaning of the word “compelled”: 163 for, 321 against.
Sunday, 19 May 2013
More data on Religion from the 2011 Census
British Religion In Numbers reports on 2011 Census Detailed Characteristics for England and Wales:
On 16 May 2013 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first outputs from the third wave of results (Release 3.1) from the 2011 census of population of England and Wales. They comprised detailed characteristics for local authorities in terms of cross tabulations for the questions on ethnicity, national identity, country of birth, main language, proficiency in English, religion, provision of unpaid care, and health. The full tables can be consulted at: https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/census/2011/detailed_characteristics
The BRIN article linked above contains a helpful summary.
There is a Statistical Bulletin here, and there is a shorter paper: What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?
And David Voas has published Religious Census 2011 – What happened to the Christians? (Part II)
The Census detailed characteristics on religion for Northern Ireland were also published on 16 May and can be viewed here.
There is a press release: Census 2011: Detailed Characteristics for Northern Ireland on Health, Religion and National Identity and a Media briefing.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Ruth Cartwright explains in the Guardian Why I’m leaving social work to become a vicar.
Martin Vander Weyer of the Spectator has been talking to Richard Chartres: Bishop of London Richard Chartres on bankers, Occupy and Justin Welby.
Mark Vernon asks When did people stop thinking God lives on a cloud? for the BBC News Magazine.
Giles Fraser writes for the Guardian Bean-counters will never understand the transcendent value of art or religion.
Friday, 17 May 2013
New clauses and amendments to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
Updated Monday morning
The updated list of new clauses and amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, arranged in the order in which they will be considered next week, is available here as a PDF file.
Towards the end of the file there is an amended programme motion, showing the proposed timetable for Consideration and Third Reading.
If you are confused by this long list of suggested changes, there is some help at hand.
David Pocklington has written Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: the story continues which contains several very useful links to earlier material.
And last Thursday, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, responded to some Questions in the House of Commons on this bill, which you can read here.
This page contains information about the detailed timetable, and provides links for video coverage of the debates, etc.
More on that CofE marriage report
- Rumblings of discontent emerge from the distant shrubbery as some diocesan bishops quietly take issue with the church’s recent report outlining its adamant opposition to gay marriage. The wobble is important as the coalition’s bill is up for report stage and third reading in the Commons next week. The report by the church’s standing faith and order commission was subcontracted to be written by two conservative academics, Oliver O’Donovan and Michael Banner, and has been widely criticised, including by members of the commission and by church conservatives as well as liberals They say it is badly written, incoherent and theologically superficial. Its launch too was naively mishandled, with the commission’s chairman Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Coventry, declining to answer questions at a joint press conference but instead seeing selected journalists separately – a sure sign of institutional nervousness and one bound to fail since the reporters compared notes anyway. John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, apologised – a very rare event – at a private meeting of diocesan bishops for the botched publication and the way the report was railroaded through. The trumpet’s certainly giving an uncertain sound (Corinthians 1, 14:8). Good old CofE!
Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard which is titled Men and Women in Marriage: Study or Ignore? It starts out this way:Continue reading "More on that CofE marriage report"
Church of England issues Report stage briefing on Marriage bill
Updated Friday evening and again Sunday afternoon
Update Sunday afternoon The entire briefing paper has now been published as a press release here.
The Parliamentary Unit, Mission and Public Affairs Division and Legal Office of the Church of England, at Church House, Westminster has issued this briefing note. It begins this way:
The House of Commons will consider the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill at Report Stage and Third Reading on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st May.
A Church of England briefing for MPs in advance of the Bill’s Second Reading was published in February. That briefing summarised the principled reasons why the Church could not support the Bill and included a detailed Q&A on some of the more commonly asked questions (and misconceptions) about the impact of the legislation on the Church of England. It can be seen here.
This briefing should be read alongside the document produced for Second Reading and focuses on some of the issues that are likely to arise during debate on Report and Third Reading.
The Church of England cannot support the Bill, because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good, when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms.
We are grateful for the positive way in which the Government has sought to engage with the Church of England on the detail of the Bill prior to Report and Third Reading.
We do not doubt the Government’s good intentions in seeking to leave each church and faith to reach its own view on same-sex marriage and offering provisions to protect them from discrimination challenges. The ‘quadruple lock’ does, in our view, achieve the Government’s policy intentions in this area and we believe it is essential that the various locks in the Bill are preserved. The Church of England, whose clergy solemnize around a quarter of all marriages in England, has not sought or been granted any greater safeguards in substance than those provided for other Churches and faiths.
In our Second Reading briefing we said:
“The Church of England recognises the evident growth in openness to and understanding of same-sex relations in wider society. Within the membership of the Church there are a variety of views about the ethics of such relations, with a new appreciation of the need for and value of faithful and committed lifelong relationships recognised by civil partnerships.”
“Civil partnerships have proved themselves as an important way to address past inequalities faced by LGBT people and already confer the same rights as marriage. To apply uniformity of treatment to objectively different sorts of relationship – as illustrated by the remaining unanswered questions about consummation and adultery- is an unwise way of promoting LGBT equality.”
“The continuing uncertainty about teachers, the position of others holding traditional views of marriage working in public service delivery, and the risk of challenges to churches in the European courts despite the protections provided, suggest that if the legislation becomes law it will be the focus for a series of continued legal disputes for years to come.”
Those concerns are now the subject of several amendments at Report and Third Reading.
The following commentary does not address specific amendments, but is a guide to Church of England concerns on the presenting issues…
The paper carries a footnote which reads:
It draws on the formal position on same-sex marriage as set out in the official Church of England submission to the Government’s consultation of June 2012, which was agreed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council.
A press release has been issued, titled Opposite-Sex Civil Partnerships. The full text is copied below the fold. The same wording is contained in the briefing paper.Continue reading "Church of England issues Report stage briefing on Marriage bill"
Thursday, 16 May 2013
RC bishops issue Report stage briefing on Marriage bill
The Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales has issued a briefing on the amendments that have been submitted for next week’s Report stage debate in the House of Commons.
The document is available as a PDF file and its introductory section is copied below the fold.
Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith have commented as follows:
We urge members of the House of Commons to think again about the long term consequences of the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill in deciding how to vote at the report stage and third reading debates next week (20-21 May).
Many people within and beyond the faith communities deeply believe that the state should not seek to change the fundamental meaning of marriage. This proposed change in the law is far more profound than first appears. Marriage will become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family, is no longer central to society’s understanding of marriage. It is not too late for Parliament to think again and we urge MPs to do so.
Furthermore, the Bill as currently drafted poses grave risks to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. If the Bill is to proceed through Parliament we urge members to ensure it is amended so that these fundamental freedoms we all cherish are clearly and demonstrably safeguarded.
Even more detail than the Briefing Note can be found via this page.Continue reading "RC bishops issue Report stage briefing on Marriage bill"
Supreme Court decides Methodist ministers are office-holders
Frank Cranmer at Law and Religion UK reports in detail:
The Supreme Court today handed down its judgment in President of the Methodist Conference v Preston  UKSC 29. By four votes to one (Lord Hope DPSC, Lords Wilson, Sumption and Carnwath JJSC: Lady Hale JSC dissenting) the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the original order of the Employment Tribunal dismissing Ms Preston’s claim…
And as Frank says, in a comment at the end of his article:
…the Supreme Court’s decision has put something of a brake on the gradual evolution of employment rights for clergy under the common law…
The official press release summary of the case is here.
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Church Commissioners announce annual results for 2012
Updated Wednesday morning, Thursday morning
The Church Commissioners for England have issued their Annual Report and Accounts for 2012 today, together with a press release which is reproduced below. General Information about the Church Commissioners is available here.
Church Commissioners announce annual results for 2012
14 May 2013
The Church Commissioners have today published their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2012, announcing a 9.7 per cent total return on their investments during the year and confirming the fund’s strong long-term performance.
The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money, and has performed in line with or better than its target return of RPI +5.0% p.a. and its comparator group over the past, three, 10 and 20 years.**
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “2012 has proved to be a better year for markets following 2011’s challenging environment and we have performed very satisfactorily. The fund grew by 9.7%, comfortably exceeding the inflation plus five per cent return target. The Assets Committee made wise decisions keeping away from certain longer term bonds, within equities our managers significantly outperformed the market and our residential and rural property holdings performed strongly.
“Much of our expenditure, representing 15 per cent of the cost of the Church’s mission, is devoted to clergy pensions, but in partnership with the Archbishops’ Council we aim also to invest in Church growth and in maintaining a nationwide Christian presence, identifying areas of need and opportunity in all contexts.”
The Commissioners - who contributed nearly £210 million in 2012 towards the cost of supporting the mission of the Church of England - manage assets which were valued at £5.5 billion at the end of 2012. More than half of their current distributions meet the cost of clergy pensions earned up to the end of 1997. The generous giving of today’s parishioners accounts for around £700m of the Church’s annual budget.
Writing in the report’s foreword Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, reflected on the long term success of the fund: “The best way to judge the investment performance of an endowment fund like the Church Commissioners is to examine the results over a lengthy period of time. This shows whether the workings parts of the investment process are in good order.
“From 2003-2012 the Commissioners funds grew by 9.1% per annum. This exceeded our target, which was the rate of inflation in the period plus five percentage points, which was 8.3% per annum. Our performance was nearly a percentage point better than that of similar funds.
“Finally, in reviewing past performance, it is interesting to review the 20 year record. It would be difficult not to be proud of it. Inflation ran at 2.9% during the period. Add five percentage points to establish our target: 7.9%. The Commissioners’ assets, however, grew through this long 20-year period by 9.9%. In other words, a substantial amount of extra resources has been created to put at the service of the Church.”
The Commissioners’ overall 9.7 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 8.4 per cent for 2012. Over the past 10 years, total returns averaged 9.1 per cent per year, against the comparator group’s 8.3 per cent per year. Over the past 20 years, the Commissioners outperformed the comparator group with an average annual return of 9.9 per cent against 7.8 per cent.
The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
The fund is held in a broad range of assets. Returns contribute to the ministry of each of the Church’s 44 dioceses by: paying for clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs; and funding the legal framework for parish reorganisation.
In 2012, the Church Commissioners continued to provide significant support to encourage the growth of the Church’s existing ministries and new opportunities. Along with the Archbishops’ Council the Commissioners have earmarked £12 million (2011-2013) for research and development funding to help understand better which parts of the Church are growing and why, and to seek to develop that growth.
The main items of expenditure were (with 2011 figures in brackets):
- £120.3 million (£114.6 million) for clergy pensions based on service before 1998
- £42.2 million (£37.7 million) for parish mission and ministry support, primarily to less-resourced dioceses
- £31.0 million (£30.8 million) for supporting bishops, including Archbishops, in their diocesan and national ministries, mainly for staff costs.
- £8.7 million (£8.4 million) for stipends of cathedral clergy and grants to cathedrals, mainly for staff salaries
- £5.1 million (£4.1 million) for other charitable expenditure including support for other Church bodies, and support costs for pastoral reorganisation.
Watch the video on the work of the Church Commissioners and the 2012 annual results.
** as measured overall these time periods by the WM All Funds universe.
The Church Commissioners picked up two awards at last month’s Portfolio Institutional awards: Best charity/endowment/foundation and Best investor in property -
Three papers write about what the report has to say about Barclays Bank.
Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times Barclays let down society, says Church
Jill Treanor in The Guardian Barclays has ‘repeatedly let down society’, says Church of England
Victoria Ward in The Telegraph Church accuses Barclays of “letting down society”
Government proposes amendments to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
A number of amendments have been filed, in the name of Maria Miller, the chief sponsor of this bill.
Also today, the Joint Committee on Human Rights took evidence from Maria Miller and also the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb. There is a video recording of that session here.
An updated consolidated list of amendments has been published, with many names of MPs added to some of them. See this PDF file here.
The amendments include a number of new clauses including provisions for:
- a referendum to be held before the bill can become law
- conscientious objection on religious grounds for all existing registrars
- religious schools under no obligation to promote a new definition of marriage
- those who hold traditional beliefs about marriage not to be discriminated against in various ways
One of the latter is the addition of these words to the Equality Act 2010:
The protected characteristic of religion or belief may include a belief regarding the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman
There are also amendments/new clauses from other MPs dealing with topics previously raised, such as provision for humanist marriage ceremonies, opening civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples, the repeal of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, etc.
Bishop Wallace Benn – all complaints and charges dismissed
Bishop Wallace Benn, who was Bishop of Lewes until October last year until his retirement, has this morning issued a public statement (dated 11 May) concerning the dismissal of complaints made against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure.
The full text of his statement is copied below the fold, and is also available here.Continue reading "Bishop Wallace Benn – all complaints and charges dismissed"