Category : Pastoral Theology

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Safeguarding: the Church of England’s house is slowly being rebuilt

Our proposals sought to record our collective lament at our sins of omission and commission, and (for the second time of asking) we commended the text of the excellent Blackburn Ad Clerum. Then and now these suggestions were rejected: the first time our Archbishops thought it premature; this time, seeking to preface our acceptance of the IICSA recommendations with sentiments of repentance, and endorsing the pastoral response which our victims had welcomed, were ruled technically out of order. We can play with the idea of repentance being ‘out of order’ in this context at a future juncture: this is not the time for mischief-making, however tempting.

Our purpose in going beyond the anaemic and prosaic was to make this debate a cultural turning point from which we might begin to move on from the necessary demolition – of structures, attitudes, policies etc. – toward a more positive future.

We thought it important that such an initiative should come from below, for we saw that it is no longer sufficient for the House of Bishops alone to direct our response. Archbishop Justin has previously acknowledged that a change to the culture of deference is needed. We were taking him seriously. It is liberating and deserves to be taken seriously. “Trust me, I’m a Bishop” is no longer a sound principle: the whole of the Church, from top to bottom, must own its priorities, and discussing these at Synod seemed to be a healthy place to start.

Our proposals additionally committed Synod to accepting the final IICSA proposals promptly, on the basis that it was inconceivable that we would pretend to know better after all the embarrassment of the IICSA evidence and submissions. Our track record does not merit once again wandering off on a Safeguarding frolic of our own.

Our final proposal dared to engage bluntly with the issue of proper reparation. We were mindful of the story of ‘Tony’ in the insurance press. He told his story on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, and explained how survivors have endured very low levels of compensation because they cannot afford to take matters to court and lose. The power imbalance in the negotiations is immense.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Living in Love and Faith process is a ‘call to action’ for Church of England – bishop

Later in the session, the floor was opened up for questions, with Ian Paul, editor at evangelical publisher Grove Books, expressing his desire to see the Church of England use the LLF process “give us a renewed commitment to the apostolic inheritance of the teaching of the New Testament”.

“I’ve been struck by the commitment to listening and the commitment to one another, but what seems to have been slightly more muted in the discussion so far is the commitment to re-engage with the teaching of Jesus,” he said.

“I think we need to be honest and say both within the Anglican tradition and within this room there is a pulling away from whether Jesus really is a good pastor and whether His teaching is what we need to hear – that teaching which I believe is also echoed in the teaching of Paul.”

Jayne Ozanne, a lesbian and campaigner for LGBT equality in the Church of England, said that she did not want to see the Church of England “just keep kicking this can down the road for more discussions”.

“The truth is, it’s not been a safe space for many involved with the LLF,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop [of Maidstone] Rod Thomas’ letter after the Archbishops’ statement following the earlier release of the ‘Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples’

I thought I should write following the statement that was issued after the conclusion of the College of Bishops yesterday. The statement can be found here.

My understanding at the College was that the statement was needed for two reasons. First, it was felt that the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples which had been released on 22nd January was pastorally insensitive in the way it was framed and released to the press. Secondly, there was concern that as a result, some of the necessary participation in the discussions which will follow the publication of the Living in Love and Faith materials could be jeopardised. Yesterday’s statement therefore apologised for the release of the Pastoral Statement.

However, it was also my clear understanding that nothing in yesterday’s statement should be taken as a retraction of the doctrinal teaching of the Church of England on marriage and sexual relationships. While some of that teaching may well come into question during the discussions about the LLF materials, it remains the current teaching of the Church. The position set out in the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples, and which was agreed by the House of Bishops, therefore continues to apply.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

(Christian Today) Church of England’s parliamentary body reaffirms commitment to tackling clergy stress and burnout

The Church of England is launching a ‘Big Conversation’ to combat clergy stress and burnout.

The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing was proclaimed an Act of Synod by the Church of England’s parliamentary body on Monday, and will now be sent out to all 42 dioceses to formally adopt.

“What we are proposing this Synod does today in making an Act of Synod, is to make clear and unequivocal the mind of the church on a simple statement of commitment to one another, in our different roles, callings and responsibilities,” he told the General Synod,” said the Rev Canon Simon Butler, who headed the Working Group which drew up the Covenant.

“From such a statement, we believe that the potential for much good and much good fruit can emerge.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Aus AP) Few Australian Anglican Submissions back blessing same-sex marriages

Australia’s most senior Anglican, Melbourne Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, referred that decision to the church’s internal appellate tribunal in September.

The tribunal was asked to consider whether the regulation was consistent under the church’s national constitution and valid under canon law.

The tribunal then called for submissions on the matter.

A second referral – to be considered concurrently – asked the tribunal to decide more generally if blessing services other than for heterosexual unions should be allowed.

In her address to the Wangaratta synod in August, which forms part of the diocese’s submissions to the tribunal, Reverend Dorothy Lee argued the blessing of same-sex Christian couples “seems a small thing to ask”.

“There are no theological grounds for refusing to bless civil unions,” Rev Lee said.

“On the contrary, faithful and loving Christian couples, whatever their sexual orientation, gender, race or class, should be able to ask for and receive the church’s blessing.”

However, of the 33 other submissions to the tribunal, just four support blessing same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Safeguarding amendments to give Synod motion ‘more teeth’ are rejected

Survivors of clerical abuse welcomed amendments to next week’s General Synod motion on safeguarding, in a letter to members that laments that the Church has made “no progress at all” in caring for victims and survivors. It was ruled on Wednesday, however, that the amendments were out of order and could not be moved.

“We need you to acknowledge that you do not have the competence or the right to clear up your own mess,” the ten survivors write. “We need independent people we can go to to report abuse and find support; people who are not part of the Church, and don’t wear the same uniform that our abusers wore. We need you to use your power as a Synod to establish a properly funded scheme for support, compensation and redress for victims of church abuse.”

The existing motion, to be debated on Wednesday morning, endorses the Archbishops’ Council’s response to the five recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in May (News, 9 May 2019).

“Is that all?” the survivors ask. “We believe that you should go much further. . . The motion before you is anodyne, but the amendments we have seen seem to have some teeth.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(CNS) Pope Francis attacks ‘evil’ of ‘gender theory’

Father Epicoco also noted how often Pope Francis speaks of evil, and he asked Pope Francis where he sees evil at work today.

“One place is ‘gender theory,'” the pope said. “Right away I want to clarify that I am not referring to people with a homosexual orientation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church invites us to accompany them and provide pastoral care to these brothers and sisters of ours.”

Gender theory, he said, has a “dangerous” cultural aim of erasing all distinctions between men and women, male and female, which would “destroy at its roots” God’s most basic plan for human beings: “diversity, distinction. It would make everything homogenous, neutral. It is an attack on difference, on the creativity of God and on men and women.”

Pope Francis said he did not want “to discriminate against anyone”, but was convinced that human peace and well-being had to be based on the reality that God created people with differences and that accepting – not ignoring – those differences is what brings people together.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Medium) Ray Gaston–On being pastorally (ir)responsible — and not waiting for bishops

On my return to parish ministry in Wolverhampton a new chapter in engagement with LGBT+ people and the church began as through a member of our congregation Kenny Rogers(who was gay) a growing ministry to sanctuary communities developed. This included a small number of people, particularly — but not exclusively — from African contexts fleeing persecution because of their sexuality. Sadly, Kenny died suddenly but on the night of his death we opened the church for nearly a hundred people, mainly from sanctuary communities to come and light candles and mourn together. At his funeral I shared his story and his journey that he had written for the process he was undergoing to become an authorised lay minister in the church. From this a growing ministry to refugees generally and a small number of LGBT+ refugees has developed and with the help of the Inclusive church ambassador for our area the support group for LGBT+ refugees Emmaus was established. This group now meets at our church and draws people from across our region to support and encourage one another through the hostile asylum process. For some of these people our church has also become their spiritual home. They come from contexts where anti-homosexual legislation introduced in the 19th century by European colonisers is defended by the church and in some cases the church argues for greater prohibition and penalties for LGBT+ people. We often hear about the Bishops of African churches and their negative views on LGBT+ inclusion in the church. At Emmaus we hear from the LGBT+ African Christians their faithfulness in the face of Christian persecution, their love for Jesus and their courage often rooted in a profound knowledge and love of God. Some of these folks rejected the church at home and have (re) embraced the faith here. Its been my experience here and in my previous incumbency that inclusivity (which I prefer to see as true catholicity) leads to growth numerically and spiritually.

I have yet to be asked if I would marry or bless a lesbian or gay relationship at St Chad and St Mark. The guidelines of the church issued in 2014 closed off any ambiguity that some of us felt gave us wiggle room in the noughties to offer blessings. Ironically following the rejection at Synod of ‘The Marriage and same sex relationships’ report in 2017 the bishops claimed they were working towards a ‘radically inclusive church for LGBT+ people’, this latest unnecessary statement shows this not to be the case. And as one non Christian friend commented ‘What’s so radical about NOT discriminating!’

Some of us at the grassroots have been seeking to develop ‘inclusivity’ for years hampered by the pronouncements of the House of Bishops. Perhaps we need to get more radical in our approach and directly and openly flout the guidelines from 2014 and 2020 misdescribed as ‘pastoral’ and make visible the reality of those struggling and in small ways succeeding in creating truly ‘radically inclusive spaces’ at the grassroots — perhaps it’s the only way change will come!

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AM) Kenny’s stages of rebellion, and the church’s response

The onset of the sexual revolution has massively challenged the church and caught it unprepared for dealing with new ways of looking at sex, especially the last two stages of rebellion. While most Christians would no doubt believe that adultery of the kind Kenny is involved in, is wrong, the use of pornography, sex before marriage and cohabitation, marriage breakdown, homosexual practice and transgenderism are increasingly seen as secondary issues by orthodox believers, and even illustrations of love and truth to be celebrated by more liberal Christians.

Amongst evangelicals in some quarters, a narrative has developed whereby we can affirm the historic teaching on sexual desire and practice – the need for sexual self-control; celibate singleness for same sex attracted people, and monogamy for marrieds – as long as this teaching is only directed at practising Christians. The reason more are not attracted to this lifestyle, we’re told, is because of lack of pastoral care and failure of communication. So, the argument goes, Christians must repent of ‘homophobia’ and general lack of compassion towards those not following the Christian sexual ethic like Kenny, and must improve communication of its message. There must even be a visible reconciliation and working together of Christians who have different views on sex. An example of this thinking can be found in the participation of an evangelical minister in a video commending the ‘pastoral guidelines’ from the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project.

If we take this view, we will see Kenny’s story as illustrating just two problems: Kenny breaking God’s commandments, and the church’s failure to show God’s love. But Kenny’s rebellion is not just adultery. He has also embraced a profoundly anti-Christian belief system, based on self-justification, the creation of a new identity celebrating his sin as an innate part of himself, and an ideology which wants to replace ‘repressive’ Christian morality with something which must in the end repress authentic Christian faith and practice.

These powerful new forces of sex/ gender identity and neo-Marxist ideology, sinful and idolatrous thinking now embedded in society’s structures, are too often not addressed in contemporary evangelical discourse about sex. Worse than that, we can end up being ‘orthodox’ in terms of our understanding of marriage and personal application of Christian sexual ethics (remaining opposed to rebellion stages 1 to 3), while at the same time imbibing the philosophies of the sexual revolution (ignoring or affirming stages 4-5). This is perhaps the reason why Bishops are able to sign a document affirming the historic teachings of the church on sex and marriage, and at the same time also support re-naming and re-baptism for those who have rejected God’s design for their bodies, and even call for blessings of same sex relationships.

If Kenny is to become a Christian, it will involve not just stopping his adultery with Ellie (stage 2 and 3), or even gaining control of his lustful thoughts (stage 1). He will need a profound change in the way he views himself (stage 4), and the world (stage 5). It won’t help if Christians positively affirm his understanding of himself, and agree that he is an oppressed victim. Similarly, if society is to become Christian, winsome presentation of Christ will need to be accompanied by a call to widespread repentance from false ideologies, and practical help to escape them, not collusion in them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Kate Bowler) The Burden of Love

Says Lewis, “There is nothing we can do with suffering, except to suffer it.”

We know that advice from other people can sound a lot like well-meaning white noise. Or like a line separating the grieving from everybody else in the normal world. It makes me wish we learned a bit more from cultures who carve out space for mourning, like the Jewish custom of “sitting Shiva” where friends and family gather for seven days together in silence. Or how people in Greece and Portugal encourage widows to wear black for months, creating a reminder for others of their loss.

We all need a bit of permission to allow ourselves time and space to feel the weight of loss, and move through it in our own way. My friend and former cello teacher lost her husband last year, and the week after the funeral, to the chagrin of those thought she should be taking a break, there she was at the piano accompanying the services as she always did. That was her way of living through her loss, with keys under her fingers, helping others the way she always did.

So my dears, what can then be said of grief except that is the burden of love? It can’t be defined or drawn, only suffered. But what must be said, what must be given, is the permission to feel it. All of it. Not as a state, but as a process. No one can tell you what that process must be for you, just now. So gently, gently, let it lead you through.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(CC) Why Andover Newton requires seminarians to take a course from the Yale School of Management

Bill Goettler, associate dean at YDS, says that a quarter of YDS students indicate an interest in taking courses at the SOM, though only a small fraction of that number follow through. By making it a requirement, Andover Newton is nudging people toward a kind of learning that, on some level, they realize they need.

Perhaps most interesting is the way new theological questions can arise in business classes. Washington shared an example of how this happened in the course Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations. “I had to answer questions like whether or not nonprofits were supposed to work to no longer be needed, which led me to ask myself this same question as it relates to denominations and churches.”

As long as the world still needs churches, it needs a learned clergy, and the clergy need whatever education is called for by the times. Today congregations are calling out for multidimensional leaders, and business education is rounding out an increasingly important dimension of pastoral ministry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Christian Today) David Baker–Dear C of E Bishops, please stop traumatising your clergy

But then we had a significant number of Bishops coming out and criticising their own statement with a kind of passive-aggressive, pseudo-spiritual language that is actually very disingenuous. Oh yes, they don’t overtly reject the statement per se – it’s just the way it came out, the timing of it, the wording that was used – as though introducing a few swirly flower motifs in the margins, changing the font from ‘Times New Roman’ to ‘Comic Sans’, and sending the whole thing out in a gift-wrapped presentation box with a free Parker pen was all that was required to satisfy them.

But this doesn’t fool anyone, does it? We all know that what many, probably most, of these objecting Bishops really mean is, ‘We don’t support that statement.’ In other words, they disagree with their own church’s teaching (not to mention that of most other denominations also). And thus the scene was set for a reportedly somewhat ‘lively’ meeting of the College of Bishops last week.

Out of that came a second statement – about the first statement – in which the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologised for any ‘hurt caused’. The words used were of such wonderfully ambiguous Anglican-speak that the Church of England media office apparently had to spend most of its time and energy making it clear to media outlets that, no, they were not retracting their original statement, and, no, nothing had changed. Except whatever it was that had. Or hadn’t. Or something.

I scarcely need to spell out what this does for the morale of many clergy on the ground. And heaven help our watching parishioners. So what are we to do? The New Testament would seem to recommend expelling those who contradict established church teaching on moral issues (1 Corinthians 5). But this somehow seems to have been supplanted in recent years by Justin Welby’s assertion that ‘we don’t chuck out those we disagree with’. It’s a lovely sentiment, redolent of the touchy-feely era in which we live. But I can’t really relate this to apostolic teaching on church discipline at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Fulcrum) Transcript of BBC Radio 5 Sunday Programme, A Discussion on the Bishop’s Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships with Ian Paul and Bp Alan Wilson

Crawley Alan, you clearly do believe there’s something new here.

Wilson Well, there’s a rather weird bit of theology going on here, and that’s the idea that you’re only married if you’ve had vows said between you. I mean that is part of the medieval, Western understanding of marriage, but most marriages in Britain don’t have to have vows in them at all, because they’re contracted in a registry office by registrars. They can have vows if they want. And of course the Orthodox Church doesn’t have vows in marriage, they don’t understand it in that way, they never have. So the idea that vows are the things that you are turning your back on if you down-trade your marriage for a civil partnership (which by the way you can’t do anyway, it’s an impossibility, but we’ve still got a rule for you even if you are doing this impossible thing), is a little bit theologically bizarre.

Crawley So Ian Paul, not only new but weird and bizarre in the language of the Bishop there. Civil partnerships involve a commitment as well as marriage. What’s the difference in theological terms?

Paul The two differences are 1) that the vows which are received in our tradition of the Church of England, signal that this isn’t just something private, that the conjugal relationship involved in marriage isn’t something which is a personal contract, it is something which is part of community, is part of building community. Just yesterday somebody told me that a friend of theirs did not want to get married but wanted to have a civil partnership because they didn’t like doing things in public, they wanted to do it privately. And in Christian theology, our understanding of marriage is that it’s part of a building block for community, it’s where children are raised, and that’s really significant. The other significant thing, which Alan hasn’t mentioned, is the fact that there are in civil partnerships no grounds in sexual relating for the relationship to come to an end. It’s a no-fault termination and again that’s a significant departure in the historic position, both in law, as well as in the Church’s understanding.

Crawley Ian, can I just break in. Can I ask, given that this has been an issue this week, does this statement mean that any sexual intimacy, any sexual activity, that takes place within a civil partnership, is illicit in Christian terms?

Paul Well, the position of the Church of England and many Christian Churches has been that the right place for sexual relating is within a marriage relationship. And the reason for that-

Crawley So does that mean that sex within a civil partnership is a sin?

Paul It means that, along with all sort of other forms of sexual relationship outside of commitment….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) C of E’s clergy discipline process ‘leading to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder

…no-one in the official Church hierarchy has a proper overview of what is happening, according to the investigation by the Sheldon Hub – part of a charity supporting those in Christian ministry. And Bishops are operating “irregular discipline” over clergy which is ‘even less accountable’, the report adds.

The Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) was introduced in 2003 and is supposed to deal “efficiently and fairly with formal complaints of serious misconduct against members of the clergy” – according to the Church of England website.

However, the CDM has been subjected to scathing criticism – and even the Church’s own explanatory diagram of the processes involved reveals a highly complex and confusing structure.

The report from the Sheldon Hub says: “We started two years ago with the assumption that the likely outcome of our project should be better training for those tasked with implementation of the existing CDM, plus some repairs to the Measure.

“The process so far has convinced us that the Measure is so fundamentally flawed that starting over from first principles and completely replacing the Measure is essential.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

The prolocutors of Canterbury and York in the General Synod write the Bishops about the H of Bps recent Guidance

We are concerned for the integrity of the Living in Love and Faith process. While some will argue that the House’s Statement last week is but an extension of its current position on Civil Partnerships, the timing of this statement is a serious failure of the House and its staff to commit to proper process, and a notable failure to demonstrate “a radical new Christian inclusion etc etc”, which has to be about process as much as it is about content. We would note that since February 2017, when the House of Clergy defeated the motion of the Bishops after the Shared Conversations, most people in the Church of England have exercised a degree of restraint in the field of human sexuality. Repeatedly, when bishops have addressed the concerns and anxieties of progressives and conservatives, we have agreed to the request to “wait for the publication of LLF”. We ourselves have both urged this approach on more impatient colleagues too as this was, we were repeatedly told, to be a new step in the life of the Church. Regrettably, and not for the first time, such self-restraint has not been seen in the House. We can only imagine what those closer to the process than we are might think of this intervention by the House, after so much costly work. It feels like a significant betrayal.

Read it all

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–What is going on in the Bishops’ comments on Civil Partnerships?

Marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.

This is what you would hear if you attended any marriage service in the Church of England. And the statement last week does indeed have many virtues, as (slightly surprisingly) Jeremy Pemberton points out:

The latest pastoral guidance by the Bishops of the Church of England is designed to address the change in the law in England and Wales that has now opened up Civil Partnerships to opposite sex couples as well as same sex ones.

In the guidance they have provided, the bishops make one or two things clear:

  • Sex is for heterosexual marriage and nowhere else
  • That civil partnerships are a form of friendship
  • That they should be sexually abstinent, whoever is in the CP

Let’s look at the good things first. First of all, this is clear guidance. No one can be in any doubt about where the bishops stand over the question of sexual relationships. Secondly, at least it does not discriminate further against LGBT people – it takes precisely the same stance over the sexual lives of heterosexuals as well. Thirdly, there is a certain bravery about offering guidance that is so massively at variance with the mores of the time. According to a recent survey, only 4% of British people now think that sex should wait until marriage in all cases.

All three of these things are important, not least the fact that the statement treats people of different sexuality in precisely the same way. It is worth noting that, if the bishops had decided to call the Government’s bluff at this point, and said ‘Look this is a duck!’, in other words, that the legal differences between CPs and marriage were in fact negligible, then they would have needed to withdraw the previous statement, and ruled that same-sex clergy couples could not now be in CPs. No-one appears to have noticed this, and I wonder what the response to that would have been, especially at this stage in the Living in Love and Faith process?


This leads us into the question of the responses and criticism. The first common one was about the timing; why make this statement now, given all that is going on? The simple answer is that the Government changed the law, and this created a gap in the previous statement. Better say something now, before a clergy couple entered a CP and something had to be done retrospectively. Some complained about the closeness to the reporting of the Peter Ball affair—but that is completely spurious, as there is no real connection between establishment protection of a someone who abused young men, and the idea that marriage is the right place for sex. If anything, the latter is an appropriate response to the former.

But, secondly, there were loud howls of protest that a statement was being made whilst the Living in Love and Faith process was underway—howls based on a bizarre misapprehension. LLF has never involved suspending the current doctrine of the Church on marriage and sexuality—after all, weddings are continuing, and the liturgy continues to express that doctrine! In fact, LLF is not even designed to be a process that revises the doctrine of the Church on marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) C of E Bishops in disarray over ‘sex for married straight couples only’ rule

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, said that she was “deeply frustrated and saddened” by the way the statement was published. She continued: “I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.”

In their document, published in response to the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships, the House of Bishops said last week: “For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

It added: “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. The introduction of same sex marriage… has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”

But Bishop Treweek said: “The word ‘love’ emanating from the generous love of God is one that needs to be heard and lived and I am extremely sorry that it has not been heard in the publication of the House of Bishops statement.”

She was supported by the Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox, who on Twitter described her statement as “very helpful comment”. The Bishop of Gloucester’s statement was also retweeted by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, and the Bishop of Edmonton, Rob Wickham.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Metro UK) Simon Butler–As a vicar I know it’s time the Church stopped telling people to be abstinent

Last week, bishops of the Church of England, issued a statement on the new opposite-sex civil partnerships.

All they could say, when it boiled down to it, was: ‘no sex before or outside marriage.’ They added that those in same or opposite sex civil partnerships should live their lives as ‘sexually abstinent friends’ and those in same sex marriages should not be having sex. The bishops of the Church are, in my experience, thoughtful, wise and compassionate women and men. But many of us are embarrassed and angered by the tone of what we read. The response of many clergy in the Church was to, metaphorically, shout at the telly.

I think it’s wrong and naive to ask for and to expect abstinence from couples. It’s wrong because there is no evidence that sex in other forms of committed relationship are harmful: the texts of the Bible assume a very different meaning to sex than it currently possesses….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A message from Bishop of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships

It brought me deep joy yesterday morning to be with a group of clergy and laity on the final day of a two-year programme called THRIVE as they continued to reflect together on what it means to be the Church in their different contexts. At the heart of it is the generous love of God, and as we gathered in a room with a roaring fire, I reflected on continuing to fan into flame the gift of God within us as we live and share the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

The bishops of the Church of England are also coming towards the end of a two-year programme. ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ is a project which will result in the production of ‘resources that will help the Church to learn how questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of what it means to embody a Christian vision of living holy lives in love and faith in our culture’. It is led by the bishops and therefore I was deeply frustrated and saddened in the way that the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships was published on Thursday. I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.

I cannot deny seeing the content of the statement at the meeting of the House of Bishops in December and in terms of factual content the statement is reiterating that in the light of the recent change in law allowing civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples, nothing has changed regarding the legal and doctrinal position of the Church of England. There should have been no surprises for anyone in that. However, I am complicit in making wrong assumptions in December and not asking questions about how this statement was to be used. For me, the publication of the statement in cold isolation from anything else, on a seemingly random day and lacking any pastoral ‘surround’ or mention of the Living in Love and Faith’ process, has been perplexing and upsetting. This is even more so as it has been released just days before the College of Bishops convene once more to focus on ‘Living in Love and Faith’ as we stand in the present looking to both the past and the future.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp Michael Nazir-Ali responds to the recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

Such an understanding of CPs should determine the Church’s attitude to the blessing of those who enter such partnerships. The Bishops are right, therefore, to say that the Church should not provide an authorised public liturgy for the blessing of CPs and that clergy should not bless such unions. Publicly authorised liturgies are not, however, necessary for clergy to conduct services of blessing. This is being done to a significant extent and the Bishops need to say what action they are going to take in such situations. Widespread practice can become the norm, even if the fundamental documents of an organisation remain unchanged.

When people come for baptism, confirmation or holy communion, my assumption is that they have repented of their sin and intend to lead a life which is consistent with the teaching of Christ and of the Church. I am surprised, however, given the clarity of the Bishops’ understanding of the nature of marriage and of what falls short of God’s purposes (what is, therefore, of the nature of sin), that they instruct the clergy not to ask those who present themselves for reception of the sacraments about the nature of their relationship. Clergy are certainly called to be exemplars to their flock and it is right to ask them about their relationships but they are examples precisely so the people may follow their example. There can be no double standards here; one for clergy and another for lay people. Sensitive pastoring is required for all but the teaching of Christ and of the Church must also regularly be placed before all so they can be comforted and challenged by it and seek to order their lives in accordance with it.

Where the baptism of infants is concerned, the Bishops are correct to point out that, while baptism can be delayed for purposes of instruction and preparation, under the Canons, it cannot be refused. They are right to say that such instruction should include teaching about marriage and family. There should be an expectation, however, that those receiving this teaching will seek to order their lives in accordance with it. The requirement for godparents in the Canons are relevant and, in any case, the covenant community should be committed to those children being baptised into the body so that they are brought up in accordance with Christian faith and values. This will mean, on the part of those bringing them to baptism, that they will commit themselves to making sure the infant is kept in regular contact with the community where the baptism takes place.

The Bishops’ Statement is clear about the Church’s understanding of marriage and the relationship of sexual expression to it. It is less clear about the consequences of such an understanding for clergy and their ordination vows and what should be required of lay people so that they too may order theirs and their families’ lives in ways that are consistent with the teaching of the Bible and of the Church. For the Church’s chief pastors, it is urgent that they guide people to walk in the way of Christ and to help them to grow in holiness and godly love. It is my prayer that the Bishops will go on to provide such clear guidance which cannot be misunderstood in matters having to do with our salvation.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church Society responds to the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter on civil partnerships this week

The statement concludes:
“With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.”

While we agree wholeheartedly with this statement, we continue to insist that pastorally sensitive ministry must include calling people to repent of their sin and exercising appropriate church discipline.

Given the confusion in our culture, and even in many of our churches, we believe the House of Bishops should be thanked for making such a courageous and counter-cultural statement.

We continue to have concerns about the trajectory of the Church of England, and some of the details of this statement, but pray that the House of Bishops will continue to provide the pastoral leadership that we need, in accordance with the revealed will of our Lord and Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Open Letter to the Archbps of York and Canterbury expressing dissent from and disappointment with the C of E House of Bps Statement this week

Since the public defeat of your ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships‘ report to General Synod in 2017, we have waited for you to deliver on your promise of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’. We have been patient believing that nothing further would be said regarding sexuality and relationships until after the publication of the Living in Love and Faith report. It seems our trust has been misplaced and we feel badly let down.

The pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document. Indeed, this statement is anything but ‘pastoral’ – it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality

(AI) Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of Uganda, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) For Christian Women, Persecution Looks Like Rape

Dali’s work serves but a tiny number of the millions of women around the world who suffer from persecution. Of the 245 million Christians attacked for their faith last year, many are women and girls who are specifically and most frequently targeted through forced marriage, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. These are the findings of Gendered Persecution, an Open Doors report that examined the differences in persecution by gender in 33 countries for women and 30 countries for men. (An updated report will be released this March.)

While forced marriage is the “most regularly reported means of putting pressure on Christian women” and “remains largely invisible,” when analyzing the data on female persecution, researchers Helene Fisher and Elizabeth Miller found that

Among all forms of violence… the one most often noted [for women] was rape. The research found it to be a common characteristic of persecution of Christian women in 17 countries, with other forms of sexual assault being listed for exactly half of countries with available data. There are no mentions of this form of violence against men, nor is domestic violence one of the pressures mentioned as a tactic used against Christian men.

Not only must Christian women like the Boko Haram captives deal with their own trauma, they often can’t find sanctuary within their faith communities when they come home.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common that Christian communities do not distinguish themselves from their surrounding cultures and, as a result, will stigmatize their women and girls who have been victims of violence,” Fisher and Miller, the authors of the report, wrote in a statement to CT.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Sexuality, Violence, Women

Wednesday Encouragement–After being bullied for his sneakers, teen donates shoes to those in need

Kyler Nipper started the nonprofit Kyler’s Kicks to make sure others with limited means can have a new pair of shoes. It’s a struggle Kyler knows all too well. The 14-year-old lives in a shelter with his family and says he was bullied and attacked for his worn-out sneakers

Watch it all from NBC.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Education, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Stewardship

(C of E) Bishop Rachel Treweek responds to the Peter Ball documentary

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(C Of E) Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball

“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.

“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.

“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.

Read it all and follow all the links.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(Rod Dreher) When A Bishop Does Right

Whenever you read about bishops here, it’s usually to complain about their failings. I’m delighted to be able to write about something good a bishop has done. In this case, it’s the Antiochian Orthodox Bishop Basil Essey, of Wichita, who corrected one of his priests, Father Aaron Warwick. As I wrote here, Father Aaron published an essay in a dissenting Orthodox online journal in which he called for a strong revision in Orthodox pastoral care for LGBT people — including encouraging same-sex couples to pair off and keep their sex lives within the pairing. Father Aaron insisted that he wasn’t challenging Church teaching, only pastoral practice, but this is a Jesuitical distinction without a difference (no, it really is: this is the tactic the Catholic LGBT activist priest James Martin, SJ, uses).

Father Aaron was scheduled to be elevated to archpriest (sort of like “monsignor” in the Catholic Church) this month, but now, that’s not going to happen quite yet. This went out yesterday:

I don’t know what, exactly, Bishop Basil did, but Father Aaron issued a public apology, and a retraction of his essay….

There is no more difficult stance in contemporary American culture for a cleric, bishop or not, to take than the one Bishop Basil has taken here. When our priests, pastors, and bishops do take those stands, we need to praise them, and praise them publicly. A senior church leader who doesn’t temporize or surrender to the culture — imagine that! God, send us more!

Read it all (cited by yours truly in the morning sermon).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

(Phys.org) Biologists identify pathways that extend lifespan by 500%

Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., and Nanjing University in China, have identified synergistic cellular pathways for longevity that amplify lifespan fivefold in C. elegans, a nematode worm used as a model in aging research.

The increase in lifespan would be the equivalent of a human living for 400 or 500 years, according to one of the scientists.

The research draws on the discovery of two major pathways governing aging in C. elegans, which is a popular model in aging research because it shares many of its genes with humans and because its short lifespan of only three to four weeks allows scientists to quickly assess the effects of genetic and environmental interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Because these pathways are “conserved,” meaning that they have been passed down to humans through evolution, they have been the subject of intensive research. A number of drugs that extend healthy lifespan by altering these pathways are now under development.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology