News for Week Ending 10/13/2014
CoE as family with disagreements not going wellThe Church of England, which is embarking on church-wide conversations on sexuality, is off to a rocky start. In a press release, the conservative evangelical group Reform has advised members not to participate. Reform Council chairman Prebendary Rod Thomas is quoted as saying
The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.Reform is particularly upset by the recent statement made by the church’s College of Bishop, which declares that an objective of the shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission—Reform’s “new objective”—is “to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Reform, apparently, is not interested in polite disagreement and is insisting that the church must maintain “its present, biblical, understanding of marriage.”
On another front, Archbishop of York John Sentamu was accosted by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell near Southwell Minster last week. (See BBC coverage here.) It is widely believed that Sentamu was ultimately responsible for Jeremy Pemberton’s being blocked from a hospital chaplaincy job as a result of his recent marriage to his male partner. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)
Andrew Brown has written a helpful commentary on both these developments for The Guardian.
Women bishops measure to go before ParliamentThe Church of England is coming ever closer to providing for women to become bishops. Thinking Anglicans has noted that a measure to allow for this innovation in the church is to come before the House of Lords October 14, 2014. (Debate in the House of Commons has not yet been scheduled.) Both Houses of Parliament must pass the measure before it can receive the royal assent and become effective. The measure itself can be read here.
Preliminary Vatican report suggests new tone for Roman Catholic ChurchA preliminary report has been released from the meeting of Roman Catholic bishops in the Vatican that was convened by Pope Francis to discuss abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and divorce. The report, which has come midway through the two-week meeting, acknowledges the gifts of gay Christians and, without calling for any change in church doctrine, seems to distance the church from viewing homosexuality as being “intrinsically disordered.” The report has been hailed as a “breakthrough” on one hand and condemned as “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history” on the other. The report, released October 13, 2014, is described in a story by The New York Times. A BBC story is accompanied by helpful commentary.
AAAS launches Science for SeminariesThe Washington Post reported October 8, 2014, that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has launched a program to promote science at seminaries. Grants amounting to $1.5 million have been distributed to a diverse group of seminaries in a program labeled Science for Seminaries. According to the Post,
The grants will cover faculty, events, science resources, guest speakers and other related costs. Seminaries could incorporate applicable issues of modern technology, methods of science or the history of science into courses seminary students already take, such as church history, ethics, pastoral counseling or systematic theology.No Episcopal seminaries are involved, and it is not known if any applied for a AAAS grant.