Monday, June 25, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
News for Week Ending 6/18/2012
Uganda archbishops support anti-gay billThe Kampala Daily Monitor reported June 10, 2012, that religious leaders in Uganda have urged that the infamous anti-gay bill first introduced in parliament by David Bahati be moved forward with dispatch. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican archbishops endorsed a resolution to that effect at a conference organized by the Uganda Joint Christian Council. The resolution declared that the bill needed to become law to prevent “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage.” Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, who is soon to retire—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has, according to The Living Church opposed the bill in the past.
U.K. proposal on gay marriage sparks controversyThe government of the U.K. recently proposed that same-sex couples be allowed to enter into civil marriages. (They can presently only enter into civil partnerships.) A Web page describes the proposal and solicits comments, which were due by June 14, 2012. The proposal would not affect the understanding of marriage by any church and would not require any church to perform same-sex marriages. Near the end of the comment period, the Church of England submitted a 13-page paper whose summary begins: “The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable ‘all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.’” The submission has set off a firestorm of protest because the paper did not indicate its authorship and because many in the Church of England argue that they were neither consulted on the matter nor agree with the points made in the paper. The paper was accompanied by a cover letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Two articles from Church Times (here and here), in addition to the links above, provide some insight into the controversy. Thinking Anglicans has extensive coverage beginning with a June 12 post and continuing in later posts, with no end in sight.
High court rejects Bishop Seabury appealOn June 18, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a list of orders involving pending cases. Two cases are of special interest to Episcopalians, both involving church property disputes between departing congregations and the wider church being abandoned. In both cases, decisions favoring the wider church were being appealed by the dissident congregations. The cases are Timberridge Presbyterian Church v. Presbytery of Greater Atlanta (listed as case 11-1101) and Ronald S. Gauss, et al. v. Episcopal Church of Connecticut, et al. (listed as case 11-1139). Both appeals were denied. These denials strengthen the cause of Episcopal Church dioceses in property cases involving departing congregations.
Gauss v. Episcopal Church is the appeal of the congregation of the former Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church of Groton, Connecticut. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) It appears that the Groton congregation has exhausted it legal options, and the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has established its right to the parish property. A story from The Living Church includes additional information and useful links.
Monday, June 11, 2012
News for Week Ending 6/11/2012
Denmark to allow same-sex marriage in churchesPolitiken.dk reported June 7, 2012, that the Danish parliament has voted to allow marriages of same-sex couples in the national Evangelical-Lutheran church beginning June 15. The measure passed with 85 votes in favor, 24 against, and 2 abstentions. Heretofore, same-sex couples did not have access to marriage, only to registered partnerships.
Scotland rejects CovenantA month before The Episcopal Church is to consider adoption of the Anglican Covenant, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted decisively against a motion that would have accepted the Covenant in principle. According to a story on the church’s Web site, the vote was 6 in favor, 112 against, and 13 abstentions. Following the vote, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Bishop of St Andrews Dunkeld & Dunblane, presented a motion in support of the Anglican Communion. In a speech to the General Synod, he called for “re-founding” of the Communion. Additional information is available in a story from Episcopal News Service.
Canadian, African bishops meetA group of 17 mostly African and Canadian bishops—the group included a single bishop from The Episcopal Church—met in Ontario, Canada, June 4–7, 2012. The so-called Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue was meeting in person for the third time. The group had its origin in the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The topics discussed at the Ontario meeting were mission and the Anglican Covenant. Judging from the statement issued at the meeting, the bishops largely agreed on the former but not the latter. Additional details are available in a story from Episcopal News Service.
Women bishops legislation headed for General Synod donnybrookThe carefully crafted compromise that would allow for women bishops in the Church of England and that was approved almost unanimously by diocesan synods may be derailed when it reaches General Synod next month. The legislation was amended by the House of Bishops in May—see Pittsburgh Update story here—and the initial announcement from the bishops was vague as to what had actually been done.
Women and the Church (WATCH), the group that has been most active in working for women bishops, has now issued a position paper on the amendments. Following extensive study and consultation, a paper has been made public that, while falling short of calling on General Synod to reject the women bishops measure, declares that WATCH cannot support it and casts doubt on its ability to be passed. The paper includes the changes made by the bishops and carefully analyzes them. Thinking Anglicans has excerpted the WATCH conclusions on its Web site here.
‘Episcopal Epistle’ highlights complexities of marriage equalityThe upcoming General Convention will likely approve a trial liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. A recent ‘Episcopal Epistle’ from the three bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut illustrates how complex moving toward marriage equality can be when church and state move at different speeds. The May 10, 2010, document from the Connecticut bishops indicates that, as of now, priests can bless same-sex marriages, which are legal in Connecticut, but they cannot act as an agent of the state by performing such a marriage and signing the marriage certificate. They indicate that, after the 77th General Convention, this situation may change.
Monday, June 4, 2012
News for Week Ending 6/4/2012
Standing Committee meets in LondonThe Standing Committee, which comprises elected members of the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), met for three days in London, May 30–June 1, 2012. The Standing Committee includes two members of The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop of Connecticut Ian Douglas. Anglican Communion News Service, in three stories, reported on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday sessions. According to Anglicans Online, “there is absolutely nothing that you need to know in any of those reports, and you probably don’t even need to know of their existence.” In the Wednesday story, it was noted that a report was received on the progress of the Anglican Covenant, but no mention was made of the rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The same story also included this: “There was general agreement that no timeframe should yet be introduced for the process of adoption of the Covenant by Provinces. The Standing Committee will return to this question following ACC-15.” The 15th meeting of the AAC is scheduled to take place in Auckland, New Zealand, October 27–November 7, 2012
The opinion of Anglicans Online notwithstanding, the Wednesday story contained this curious piece of news: “The committee also noted that the President, Chair, and Vice-Chair all hold their offices other than as representatives of their Provinces.” Presumably, this is primarily aimed at keeping the Archbishop of Canterbury as president of the Standing Committee even though the Church of England has rejected the Covenant.