Thursday, 30 September 2010

"Anglo-Catholicism crumbles as traditionalists prepare to enter the Ordinariate "

Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England is dispersing like a cloud of incense rolling down the nave. Those Anglicans who have decided to take advantage of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic offer of special privileges within the Roman Catholic Church are already constructing a network of Ordinariate communities that will bear fruit in new Catholic parishes. Crucially, they are led by two “flying” Anglican bishops, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and the Rt Rev Keith Newton of Richborough.

Meanwhile, Anglo-Catholics who don’t feel ready to make the move yet, or perhaps at all, have muddied the waters with the creation of a body called the Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda (SSWSH) whose role is unclear, to say the least. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either a group of traditionalists who want to stay in the Church of England, playing the role of Japanese jungle fighters who don’t know the war is over, or a holding body for people who will join the Ordinariate eventually but need more time to prepare. Read more

Divine dispatches: Action-packed Anglican edition with talk of a UK ordinariate and the new splinter group trying to accommodate Anglo-Catholics

[...] Anglican anoraks will understand the implications of the word "society". It was rejected by the revision committee, which decided "there was some risk of creating a society that was an even weightier body than a diocese. This was because some of the representations made to us seemed to envisage that jurisdiction would in some way be conferred on the society itself and through it to its bishops". The bishop of Manchester made the point in a slightly less churchy way here.

Incidentally, there has been no comment from the bishop of Manchester or Lambeth Palace about these bishops setting up something that was voted down, but that's a sideshow.

These bishops are endorsing, nay spearheading, the charge against a code of practice that will be drafted later this year by the House of Bishops. Conflict of interest much? As Swissh itself says: "The unveiling of the Mission Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda reflects a determination not to accept a code of practice as currently suggested by the General Synod but to work for and create a more realistic approach that allows the integrity of those who cannot accept this innovation to be preserved, to flourish and grow within the Church of England. This development represents a constructive initiative on the part of those who cannot accept the innovations proposed in legislation and who are hurt and frustrated by the General Synod's inability to provide for their theological position."

A society would have the support of two constituencies – the Anglo-Catholics and the conservative evangelicals – but they would need to move quickly to set this up. This feverish activity takes place against diocesan synods discussing the draft legislation, General Synod elections and the annual gatherings of Forward in Faith and Reform taking place in the next few weeks. It is worth remembering that attempts to introduce provisions for opponents have failed on several occasions. Moves by, say, the House of Bishops, to remedy this would need to be approved by the General Synod. Unless the complexion of the synod changes drastically, it would be hostile to attempts to undo in a backroom committee what was openly decided in the synod debating chamber. Read more

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Deadly traps lie in wait as Nato surge begins to drive Taliban out of Kandahar

[...] Haji Zikraya Khan and Mehboob Ali, both members of Kandahar's provincial assembly, had spoken out repeatedly against the Taliban. Last month they paid the price, both of them killed in a bomb attack. Mr Khan's family say that as well as being victims of insurgent brutality they, like many other Kandaharis, have first-hand experience of the rapacious police. "My uncle died because he was speaking out against oppression by the Taliban and revealed how the Pakistanis are supporting the terrorists." said Zulmai Mohammed.

Mr Mohammed's sister, Amina, used to be a clerk in government service. She stopped working after receiving a warning from the Taliban to stay at home. "They do not want women to have any independence. I will know security has improved when I can go back to work. A lot of other women feel the same way. Maybe things are getting better, but we are still afraid, we know women who have been killed for refusing to stop working."

Mr Mohammed conceded that there are some signs of improvement. "The security has improved in the city but there are still Taliban around, and we believe some of the police still sell them information. Things can get bad again. I am a target of the Taliban because of my family, because of what I have said. I must stay careful." Read more

Professor slapped with £155 railway fine for getting off his train one stop EARLY

A professor who got off his train one stop before the destination on his ticket was ordered to pay a £155 penalty to leave the station.

Martyn Evans was told he would be fined for disembarking at Darlington, near his home, rather than waiting until Durham, where he works at the university’s philosophy department.

The state-run East Coast train company said ticketing regulations meant he could get off only at the stop he had paid for – and nowhere else.

Read more

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Rowan Williams's authority goes up in smoke as he replies 'Pass' to a question about future gay bishops

From behind the Times’s paywall, the sound of an Archbishop of Canterbury digging a hole for himself so deep that it will soon swallow him up.

Dr Rowan Williams has given a disastrous interview to the paper today that leads his interviewer, Ginny Dougary, to describe his position on homosexuality as “both confusing and rather revolting”. Well, she’s certainly right on the first count. Here’s my paraphrase of the Archbishop’s current position:

Does he still think it’s OK for gay couples to have sex, as he wrote years ago? “That’s what I wrote as a theologian, you know, putting forward a suggestion. That’s not the job I have now,” he tells Dougary.

No gay bishops, then? Actually, gay bishops are OK, as long as they don’t have sex. (The same prohibition doesn’t apply to lay people, for reasons lost in the mist of time.)

So it’s appropriate for the celibate Jeffrey John to be a bishop? Here +Rowan really squirms, saying he “let down” John by blocking him as Bishop of Reading. But we don’t discover why, this year, the still-celibate Dean John unexpectedly disappeared from the candidates’ list for Southwark.

But does the Archbishop hope that one day gay bishops can have partners? “Pass”.

Yes, he really did say that. Read more

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Anglicans are Coming: Archbishop Wuerl to Oversee Reception of Anglican Christians

The Vicar of Christ and successor of the Apostle Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, just returned from an extraordinary pastoral visit to the United Kingdom. There, he beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman; the great Anglican turned Catholic Churchman, beloved by Catholic and Anglican Christians. The visit was extraordinary. This humble, diminutive Pope won the hearts of the faithful of the United Kingdom and opened the hearts of many others. The United Kingdom is till unpacking the historic implications of the visit. For the best treatment see the excellent reporting of Rocco Palmo.

One of the reasons the visit is of such significance is because it comes right at the time that the Anglican Community is fracturing, splintering and falling apart. Some within it are abandoning the ancient faith handed down to us from the apostles. To many Anglican Christians, this is a tragedy. So, the Vicar of Christ has offered a juridical structure which provides a place within the full communion of the Catholic Church where they could maintain their Anglican Ethos and be a part of a new missionary age in a restored Catholic Church, finding a safe harbor. Read more

New Anglo-Catholic Missionary Society announced

Launched at the Sacred Synods in London and Leeds this week.

The Missionary Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda

Open to Anglican laity, clergy and religious committed to the full visible unity of the Church for its mission in the world and also to holding central the gift of the three fold order of ministry shared with others, received from the first millenium and held in trust for an ecumenical future.

The Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda is an initiative supported by the Bishop of Chichester, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Bishop of Beverley, the Bishop of Edmonton, the Bishop of Horsham, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Bishop of Pontefract,
Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS and others.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ordinariate for Anglicans converting to Rome 'ready by the end of the year'

Breaking news from the Catholic Herald’s investigative reporter Anna Arco:

Britain could have an Ordinariate by the end of the year, it emerged today.

Sources say that the Rt Rev Keith Newton, the flying Bishop of Richborough and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the flying Bishop of Ebbsfleet, will take up the special canonical structure, which allows groups of Anglicans to come into full Communion with Rome without losing their Anglican identity, before the end of the calendar year.

Groups of Anglicans are already forming across the country in preparation for joining an Ordinariate, according to the blog of the retired Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes. Read more

We may be beating the Taliban, but in this country you'd never know it

[...] Sangin will hardly go down in the annals of this campaign as a stunning success. The woefully under-resourced British contingent was never able to achieve its original objective of dominating the area surrounding this strategically important town. But through their heroic efforts, British troops did manage to defeat repeated Taliban attempts to retake the town, killing hundreds of insurgents and denying the enemy control of a vital supply route.

So why is it that all people want to discuss is our losses in Sangin, rather than our successes? Part of the answer lies in the strange reluctance of senior British officers to provide details of the scale of the carnage that is daily being inflicted on the Taliban. Normally, governments are only too eager to proclaim the military's successes in times of war, not least because of their propaganda value. Churchill sustained morale during the darkest hours of the Second World War with constant updates on enemy losses, while Thatcher was unequivocal in her praise of British victories in the Falklands.

Those responsible for prosecuting the war in Afghanistan, by contrast, fall silent when asked to provide details of enemy losses. The explanation, or so I was told by one Cabinet minister, is a concern that publishing details of Taliban deaths would play into the hands of anti-war campaigners, who would exploit the information for their own propaganda purposes. Politicians are also mindful of the impact the true level of Taliban casualties might have on British Muslims. There are already significant numbers who actively support the Taliban and its allies, and ministers have convinced themselves that the total would only grow if the movement's true plight were more widely known.

This policy of restraint, however, is self-defeating, because public support is crucial to the ultimate success of any military campaign. British backing for the effort in Afghanistan will continue to wane until we focus on our successes, rather than obsess about our failures. Read more

Civil Partnerships Formation numbers continue to fall

(See also Civil Partnerships in the UK 2009 for more detail.)

Same-sex couples formed 6,281 civil partnerships (3,227 male and 3,054 female) in the UK in 2009, a fall of 12 per cent compared with 2008.

The number of civil partnerships in both England and Wales in 2009 fell by 13 per cent to 5,443 and 244 respectively. In Scotland the number of civil partnerships fell by 5.1 per cent to 498. However, in Northern Ireland the numbers increased by
12 per cent to 96 civil partnership formations.

On average, 326 partnerships were formed in the UK each month between January and March 2009, rising to 656 between April and September and falling to 457 between October and December. Read more

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Men arrested in Gateshead over suspected Koran burning

Six Tyneside men have been arrested after filming themselves apparently burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Police said the men, all from the Gateshead area, were detained after a video appeared on the internet.

They were arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred and released on bail pending further inquiries. Read more

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

New website launched to mark 350th anniversary of Book of Common Prayer

The Prayer Book Society has launched a new website ahead of yearlong celebrations in 2012 to mark the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The website,, details the history of the liturgy and national and regional events marking its anniversary.

It has been endorsed by politicians, Church leaders and commentators, including Tory MP Mark Pritchard, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev John Saxbee, Lord Waddington QC and Joanna Lumley.

A spokesman for the Prayer Book Society said the website would also feature a new online version of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

“The website will become the centrepiece of all that 2012 means,” he said.

The website was launched during the Prayer Book Society’s annual conference last week.

The conference was joined by several high profile speakers, including newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens, who said the Book of Common Prayer was “the very stuff of inspiration”.

“The Prayer Book is beautiful precisely because it is true,” he said.

Popular blogger, the Rev John Richardson, criticised some contemporary Anglican liturgies for taking out traditional words like “wrath” because some clergy are “uncomfortable” with them. Read more

Richard Dawkins stirring up the atheists and others at the Protest the Pope rally

Lot's of cheers at the announcement, "Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic."

Moore College, Sydney, opens 'Priscilla and Acquila' centre

Jane Tooher has joioned the faculty of Moore College to become the founding director of the Priscilla and Aquila Centre. This Centre, a new initiative for the college, aims to encourage the ministries of women in partnership with men and has a number of connected aims:

1. to encourage and strengthen the training of women for ministry
2. to encourage and promote a wide range of ministries by women, in genuine complementary partnership with the ministries of men
3. to encourage and support women to pursue postgraduate theological study at Moore and to write and publish at both a popular and academic level Read more

BBC News: Computers show how wind could have parted Red Sea

New computer simulations have shown how the parting of the Red Sea, as described in the Bible, could have been a phenomenon caused by strong winds.

The account in the Book of Exodus describes how the waters of the sea parted, allowing the Israelites to flee their Egyptian pursuers.

Simulations by US scientists show how the movement of wind could have opened up a land bridge at one location.

This would have enabled people to walk across exposed mud flats to safety.

The results are published in the open-access journal Plos One. Read more

Monday, 20 September 2010

Student challenges 2:2 degree awarded from Queen's

A Belfast graduate has taken his university to court after they awarded him a 2:2 degree.

Andrew Croskery, from County Down, applied for a judicial review of the grade he received from Queen's University in Belfast.

Mr Croskery claimed if he had received better supervision he would have obtained a 2:1, the High Court was told on Monday.

A lawyer for QUB said the court was not the place to resolve the matter.

Mr Croskery graduated in June with a degree in electrical engineering.

His barrister claimed he had been denied a right to appeal against his classification because he had already graduated from Queen's in the summer.

Tony McGleenan argued that the university's stance was not compliant with his client's human rights.

"It is obviously an important case for the applicant. He avers his employment prospects have been jeopardised... in this competitive job market," he said.

"It's also clearly an important case for the university." Read more

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Britain falls behind Poland and Slovakia in university tables

The UK has lost its edge as a world leader in providing higher education, one of the most authoritative international studies has revealed.

It has plummeted from fourth place to 15th in less than a decade in the percentage of graduates it produces – being overtaken by countries such as Poland and Portugal in the process.

The study's findings prompted dire warnings from lecturers and vice-chancellors' representatives, who said the UK faced relegation from the top league from which it would struggle to recover. The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), comes just before a major government review of university finance by the former BP boss Lord Browne and cuts in higher education funding of up to 35 per cent. Read more

Prehistoric baby sling 'made our brains bigger'

The most important aspect of human evolution was facilitated not by Darwinian-style natural selection but by a crucial technological device invented by early Stone Age women, shows research by a leading British prehistorian.

Timothy Taylor of Bradford University claims that increased brain size was made possible by the invention of the baby sling, a development which enabled slower growing, physically and mentally immature offspring to survive and flourish.

"In effect, kangaroo-style, early female human ancestors became marsupial, carrying their immature youngsters outside their wombs," said Dr Taylor, who has published his research in a book called The Artificial Ape. "The invention of the baby sling, which allowed more babies to successfully mature outside the female body, instantly removed the barrier to increased head and brain size." Read more

Julie Burchill: Do visits from ex-Hitler Youth members make me uneasy? Is the Pope Catholic?

How very broad-minded this country is, when we consider that the British taxpayer will shortly be shelling out millions of pounds to protect a former member of the Hitler Youth who believes Anglicans will burn in Hell when the Pope visits this country next week – just after we commemorate the beginning of the Nazi Blitz on this country! Tolerant or WHAT? Read more

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Telegraph: West is trounced by Chinese aspiration

[...] To the developing world, the future looks bright. In China, and most other developing countries, going to university offers a route to a better future; in the West, we’ve lost our belief in self improvement and seem already resigned to a future of gentle, or even catastrophic decline.

For China, expansion of tertiary education forms a key part of the country’s development strategy. The number of graduate and undergraduate students in China has approximately quadrupled in recent years. In 1998, the total number of graduates from tertiary education was 0.8 million; in 2005, it was more than 3 million, a nearly threefold increase. The number of enrolments (of new and total students) has risen even faster and approximately quintupled between 1998 and 2005. Since then, the numbers have continued to rise at an almost exponential rate.

What’s more, the focus is strongly on the sciences. There are already substantially more Ph.D. engineers and scientists in China than in the United States, as China produces three times the number of engineers per year. You can argue about the quality of some of these graduates, but what China may lose in terms of the standard of qualification, it makes up for in quantity, and even on the standards it is catching up fast. Read more

Guardian: Archbishop of Southwark to meet anti-pope protesters

An archbishop is to meet leading campaigners against the pope this week to tell them to "show respect" to Catholics celebrating his visit to London.

Scotland Yard has brokered the meeting between the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, a senior figure in the Catholic church, and the organisers of a campaign against Pope Benedict XVI's visit.

Smith said today he had no intention of infringing the rights of those intending to protest against the papal visit. But he said he planned to use the encounter to encourage them not to become overly confrontational.

"I've always said, thank God in this country we have free speech," he said. "They are perfectly entitled to protest. What I would ask of all of them is to do so in a dignified way, which does not disrupt the joy of the Catholic community in welcoming the pope. I hope they would show respect to those of us who do have [religious] convictions." Read more

Guardian: Young gay men fuelling HIV epidemic, study warns

The HIV epidemic in Europe, including the UK, is being fuelled by the risky behaviour of young gay men, according to research published today.

Public messages and campaigns about the dangers of unsafe sex do not appear to be getting through to men who have sex with men, the researchers say – particularly the young ones.

By investigating the genetic profile of the virus in more than 500 newly screened patients over nine years, scientists in Belgium have identified clusters of people with type B virus – not the one that is most prevalent in Africa.

Those infected are almost all white, male, gay and young, they say. These men also tend to have other sexual diseases, such as syphillis, which suggests that they are involved in unsafe sexual behaviour and are not using condoms.

The research was carried out by scientists at Ghent University in Belgium, and there is every indication that their findings hold true for the UK. Nick Partridge, the chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that gay men were the group most at risk of HIV infection in the UK. Read more

Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference 10: Don Carson on John's Gospel

The tenth Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference is on Saturday 2nd October, 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, at the usual venue of the Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford.

This year's speaker is Don Carson,  who will be introducing five themes from John's Gospel:

Jesus the Word of God
Jesus the Bread of God
Jesus the Good Shepherd
Jesus the Alien King
Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

As in previous years, the day will also include Prayer and Praise, a bookstall and time to meet with others from across the Diocese of Chelmsford.

The day will be introduced by David Hawkins, the Bishop of Barking.

Bookings need to be made before the 16th of September to qualify for a £5 reduction. Bookings after that date will be £20 per person. Groups of 3 or 4 are £14 per person and groups of 5 or more, £12 per person.

To book, contact Carolan at St Peter's Church Office, Gubbins Lane, Harold Wood, 01708 342080 or e-mail

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Community punishment criticised as 'holiday camp'

The use of community service has been criticised after criminals were filmed drinking tea and smoking illegal drugs.

The government's victims' commissioner said it was a "holiday camp for offenders" which had to be changed.

The undercover footage from three areas in England followed an investigation by ITV1's Tonight programme.

It comes as Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke considers plans to give more offenders community punishments rather than short prison sentences.

The victims' commissioner, Louise Casey, who helped develop the Community Payback scheme, said the current set-up was "disgraceful" and called for a revolution in the way it was implemented. Read more

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Problem drinking shows up north-south England divisions

There are stark geographical divisions in the toll alcohol takes on health in England, with men in the North West more likely to die prematurely than those in the South East, figures show.

Data collected by the North West Public Health Observatory shows almost 16,000 people died in England last year as a result of alcohol-related harm.

Two-thirds of the areas with the highest harm levels were in the North.

But alcohol-attributable crime was at its peak in London. Read more