FaithWorld

Church of England paves way for women bishops, traditionalist departures

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Canterbury Cathedral in England, December 23, 2009/Suzanne Plunkett

The Church of England has moved a step closer to the consecration of women bishops, setting up a possible showdown with traditionalists who back all-male clergy in the Anglican communion.  Draft legislation introduced at the weekend said women should be consecrated as bishops on the same basis as men, disappointing the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical wings of the Church which had wanted a “two-tier” system.

Some are now likely to consider Pope Benedict’s offer last October to make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism.

The draft proposals will now go forward for debate at the Church’s General Synod, or parliament, in York, northern England, in July, and will still have to pass a number of stages before England could see its first woman bishop, possibly in 2014.

Read the full story here.

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Give up your iPod for Lent, British bishops urge

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Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs with iPod Nano display in San Francisco, 9 Sept 2008. Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

Church of England bishops are encouraging British Christians to give up their iPods for Lent, instead of more traditional vices such as chocolate, to help save the planet.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, are among those calling for a carbon fast for Lent — a period ahead of Easter which Christians traditionally consider a time of penance and reflection — which began on Wednesday.

Will UK Methodists heal two-century rift with Church of England?

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Methodist Central Hall, London, June 2005/Adrian Pingstone

Are Britain’s Methodists planning a return to the Church of England after more than two centuries of division? That’s what their president, Rev. David Gamble, suggested to the Church of England General Synod in London today. The two churches entered a covenant in 2003 that committed them to deepening unity and cooperation.  His presence at the synod, and plans by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to attend the Methodists’ conference in June, were visible signs of this link, he said.

But the results leave something to be desired, Gamble acknowledged:  “It has to be said that around the country the situation is patchy. In some places there are very close working relationships and exciting new initiatives. In others you could spend quite a long time trying to find any sign of the covenant in practice.”

After reviewing the two churches’ cooperation in various fields, he ended his speech by saying: “We are prepared to go out of existence not because we are declining or failing in mission, but for the sake of mission. In other words we are prepared to be changed and even to cease having a separate existence as a Church if that will serve the needs of the Kingdom.”

from UK News:

How chaplains find peace during wartime

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A British military chaplain prepares a Remembrance Day ceremony at the British cemetery in Kabul November 11, 2009/Jerry Lampen

Dozens of chaplains from the Church of England are serving with British armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are there when soldiers seek redemption around the time of battle, and they there are, standing in the operating theatre, waiting until the surgeon can do no more.

They serve the needs of soldiers sent to war, and they also serve God.

While they adminster balm on the battlefield, their peers preach peace from the pulpit. Which is the more important for the CoE at a time of war?

Church of England stops short of links with breakaway U.S. Anglicans

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Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England, 23 Dec 2009/Suzanne Plunkett

The Church of England stopped short of recognising a new conservative church in North America on Wednesday, avoiding possible embarrassment for the main Anglican church in the United States.

But some evangelicals in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) said they were encouraged by the decision of the General Synod, the CoE’s parliament, for the archbishops of Canterbury and York to report back on the break-away church’s progress next year.

Some members of ACNA, formed in opposition to pro-gay members of the official Anglican body in North America, said they had not expected any kind of recognition from the Anglican mother church for another five years.

Church of England laments drop in UK religious TV programmes

A shopper looks at televisions in central London 2 March 2005/Toby Melville

A shopper looks at televisions in central London 2 March 2005/Toby Melville

The Church of England voted on Wednesday to express “deep concern” about a drop in religious programmes on British television but drew back from solely targeting the BBC for criticism.

The Church’s General Synod, or parliament, had been asked by one of its members to pinpoint the publicly funded BBC for marginalising religion and treating religious shows on its non-core channels as “freak shows..”

But the synod instead voted on an amendment which expressed its “deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years.” The member, Nigel Holmes, a former BBC producer, brought a private motion accusing the BBC of preferring natural history and gardening programmes to religious output, saying some in broadcasting assumed that religion lost audiences.

CofE waits a little longer to decide on powers for women bishops

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Canterbury Cathedral, 23 Dec 2009/Suzanne Plunkett

Anyone hoping to get an idea of how many Church of England traditionalists may abandon the Mother Church for Rome in disgust and despair over women bishops may have to wait a little longer.

What has already been a long-drawn out affair will be delayed a further six months after the CoE Revision Committee, tasked with looking at how women bishops can be accommodated, decided the matter would not be debated at next month’s General Synod, the Church’s parliament.

A poor response to the committee’s October suggestion resulted in it effectively being told to think again, pushing back the timetable.  Under Church law, the new proposal can now not be discussed until the next General Synod – in July.

from UK News:

RC archbishop to Anglicans: we don’t want cafeteria Catholics

nichols (Photo: Archbishop Vincent Nichols, 21 May 2009/Kevin Coombs)

Those disaffected Anglicans in England and Wales who think they can take up Pope Benedict's offer and switch to Rome with a "pick and choose" attitude should think again, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols has said.

Many Anglicans unhappy with women's ordination and gay clergy cannot just convert to Roman Catholicism as a way out, but must accept Catholic doctrine  wholeheartedly, he said.

"Nothing is envisaged in this provision that the Pope has put in place is a kind of minimalist approach to picking bits of the Catholic faith that I like and then seeing myself as it were contained as a quasi-Catholic, not a real Catholic, under the umbrella of this constitution," he said, referring to a "buffet approach" to the faith that some Catholics dismiss as "cafeteria Catholicism."

from UK News:

UK Catholics warn against “decriminalising” suicide

BRITAIN/Catholic bishops in England and Wales warned against people thinking they may be exempt from prosecution in assisting suicide after new guidelines were issued.

The  Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) set out the guidelines in September in an attempt to bring greater clarity to the thorny issue of prosecution, inviting comments during a consultation period.

Suicide is still against the law in Britain, but the high-profile case of multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, from Bradford, northern England, who has sought clarification on whether her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her go abroad to die, has been an impetus for the guidelines. 

Will Queen Elizabeth give the pope a warm welcome next year?

queenOne can guess what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will say to Pope Benedict when the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion travels to the Vatican later this year. The more interesting question might be what  Queen Elizabeth is likely to say when she hosts the pope next year. (Photo: Queen Elizabeth, 13 June 2009/Luke MacGregor)

The timing of the trips couldn’t be more intriguing, especially the second one. The pope is due to visit Britain in September 2010 and is expected to preside there over the beatification of the late Cardinal John Henry Newman, a famous 19th-century convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism.

The queen is, after all, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, many of whose flock the pope is seeking to poach with his offer last week allowing Anglicans to convert en masse while keeping many of their traditions. And among her honorifics is “Defender of the Faith.” While that sounds impressive, it pales in comparison to Benedict’s long string of titles including “Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.” But oneupmanship is a British sport, so one never knows how these things can turn out.