Saturday, 24 November 2012


In a well written article in Anglican Ink, Tom Sutcliffe journalist, author, and opera critic and member of General Synod, explains why he, as a supporter of Women’s Consecration never-the-less decided to vote against the legislation.

“The truth is that, in July with Clause 5.1.c as then proposed, the Measure stood a chance of being accepted by those most adversely affected by it and I might have voted for it then. But after that clause was watered down and talked merely of respect - a word which is no reassurance at all to anybody who has been attending to developments in The Episcopal Church on the other side of the Atlantic - it was likely to lead to grief and further departures. And I absolutely do not want to see the Church of England ending up as a result of our in my view correct determination to include women in the ordained ministry at all levels with an even smaller footprint. I do not want the Church to vote to shrink more, and there is no doubt that the ordination of women has not had the entirely positive effect that was anticipated. It has not led to an increase in the membership or the effectiveness of our church, however good most women priests have been. The decline in numbers and in status and in the respect in which we are held by ordinary citizens who are not active members has become precipitate.”

He goes on to write: “The assurances given to those in the minority of a traditionalist view were worthless because the Code of Practice, even when it had been set up, would have been open to constant revision and would have been a target for further adjustment when the campaigners from GRAS and Affirming Catholicism had managed to squeeze out of the Church all those people with whom they disagree on this matter and whom they do not think belong within the reformed liberal Anglicanism that they seek. This element of passionately committed supporters of the ordination of women made no secret of their determination to insist that the Church of England in their view should drive out anybody who did not accept women's ordination.” Read all the article here

Many of us had foreseen this situation, if and when, the defeated measure became law. In fact, I recently quoted one women priest who had said we were not wanted in the CofE if we could not accept women bishops and we should leave. Any wonder with this attitude Anglo-Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals did not trust a Code of Practice and forecast that what ever it said originally, it would be watered down over a few years to be totally meaningless.

Friday, 23 November 2012


I am grateful to Bishop David Chislett for bringing this article to my attention through his blog at

"The Church of England Still Won't

Allow Female Bishops:

Good for Them"


from the USA newspaper THE ATLANTIC.

When the Church of England narrowly defeated a measure to allow women to be appointed bishops this week after a dozen years of legislative effort, many observers were surprised. After all, the group has ordained women as priests since 1994what's the big deal with letting female priests become bishops?

The answer helps explain why the measure failed. The Church of England is known for the graciousness with which it accommodates minority theological opinions. Since the 1990s, parties that disagreed about female ordination merely had to tolerate each other's presence. Female bishops, on the other hand, would hold significant ecclesial and sacramental authority over everyone in the church, even over the minority who believe that female ordination is a theological impossibility. Mere toleration would no longer be possible.

Legislation in support of women bishops was debated by the church this summer, with a focus on whether to protect that group that views female ordination as invalid. Bishops asked members to trust that the Church would respect opponents of the change, even while some proponents of the legislation opposed protections. Traditionalists and their sympathizers doubted these pledges, remembering that promises made to opponents of female ordination in the 1990s were subsequently broken: They were told that there would be no damage to the careers of clergy who viewed female ordination as invalid, for instance. A simple look at the vote in the House of Bishops this week (44 for, 3 opposed) tells a different story.

The measure easily passed the House of Bishops and House of Clergy, and failed by only six votes out of 206 cast in the House of Laity. Passage in all three houses is required by Canon law. Under church rules, the legislation can't be revisited for the next five years. But there are a few loopholes leaders are exploring.

The stakes are high. Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams pinned his legacy to the passage of the vote. The repudiation, despite the narrow margin, is a stinging defeat. Some MPs insist that they will move forward with legislative penalties against the church if the situation is not rectified to the state's satisfaction.

Telegraph columnist Damian Thompson says "it's an ecclesial mess of the most peculiar variety." Times religion reporter Ruth Gledhill sounded deeply hurt, writing, "The Church of England has forfeited right to speak on assisted dying—because it has just committed suicide, assisted by synod."

Noted atheist Ricky Gervais, whose feelings about the Church of England would undoubtedly be the same regardless of the vote's outcome, snarked, "The best thing about Christianity is its message of acceptance and equality. That's why the C of E have always welcomed female Bishops."

The argument from these leading cultural figures seems to be "get with the times." Indeed, the authority of the times could not be clearer: Gender doesn't matter, all people are equally capable of performing all duties and sexism is a cardinal sin.

The cultural context is clear and convincing to those pushing for a change in the church's doctrine. But Scriptural authority and tradition are just as clear and convincing to those who resist the doctrinal changes. Most Christians are in church bodies that retain male-only clergy, a doctrinal teaching that was settled without much controversy for millennia—until the 20th century. This group includes Catholics, the Orthodox Church and much of Protestant Christianity.

In addition to the passages in Scripture that require male authority in the church, based on the order of creation, there is the example of Jesus Christ himself, who chose only men to serve as Apostles, even while women served in a variety of other roles. This happened in a context where Jews required male clergy but other ancient religions had priestesses.

While arguments about gender in the secular realm frequently speak in terms of fairness and power, the organizing principle in Christian theology is service. In the New Testament, men and women served the early church in a variety of ways, while ordination was reserved for men (and only a few men at that).

For reformers, the issue of female ordination derives from notions of human rights and human customs. Much of the response to the Church of England's vote charged the church with discriminating against women by denying them equal rights.

And while social reformers argue that men and women are more or less interchangeable and that their differences have little bearing on life, traditional Christians say that Scripture and tradition teach otherwise.

Traditional Christians believe that both men and women are created in the image of God, but that they are two distinct and special creations of God. Traditional Christians view this as a blessing more than a burden. These distinctions also mean that men and women have different responsibilities and duties (e.g. husbands, wives, mothers and fathers). Men and women have different responsibilities and opportunities for service in the church, too. A posture of service guides the traditional church less than a demand for rights.

Traditional Christians have a high view of the Office of Holy Ministry, but the most important teaching on gender in the New Testament is probably from Galatians, which proclaims that everyone is equal in salvation. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus," the Apostle Paul writes.

The global Anglican Communion is wrestling with how to reconcile its progressive and traditional wings, and the Church of England is no exception. If the church body eventually consecrates its first female bishop, it wouldn't be the first time the voices of culture and politics have spoken with greater authority in the Church than Scripture, tradition, and the erstwhile consensus of the Christian church.

But it is worth keeping in mind the words of William Ralph Inge, who was an Anglican priest, Cambridge professor, and Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in the late 19th and early 20th century. He wrote, "Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next."

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Despite all the rather stupid comments in the press and on the TV, the reason the measure for the Consecration of Women as Bishops was defeated was due, in my opinion, to the totally inadequate provision made for those who cannot accept this innovation. When the vote for the ordination of women to the priesthood was passed in 1992 it was hailed as a victory for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so why now is this defeat being designated as ignoring the guidance of Holy Spirit. Despite what seems an overwhelming majority in favour of the introduction of women to the episcopate there are a large number who are opposed (around 31 or more%) so surely to consecrate women as bishops there needs to be proper provision for traditionalists and perhaps the starting point for this is to take into account what they want rather than attempt to impose on them a Code of Practice the contents of which have not been decided.

One of the speakers in yesterday’s debate asked something along the lines of why didn’t traditionalists trust the Bishops to protect their interests. The short answer is that quite a few of them only paid lip service to the Act of Synod and did everything in their power to negate the provisions and protection it gave to parishes who opted to pass the resolutions so why should they be trusted now.

What needs to happen now is for their to be a serious and sensible meeting, or meetings, to allow both sides of the argument to express their view without one of them digging in their heels so that a reasoned proposal can be put to General Synod, acceptable to both the proponents of women’s consecration and those opposed.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


STOP PRESS The result of the vote in the General Synod of the Church of England on the measure to allow women to be consecrated as Bishops failed to reach the necessary two thirds majority in the House of Laity and consequently the measure has failed.

We now need a period of reflection and prayer about how this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of us all particularly to provide the Sacramental Assurance that Anglo-Catholics need. Deo Gratias

Monday, 19 November 2012


Tomorrow General Synod will debate and vote on the Measure to introduce the consecration of women as Bishops in the Church of England. This is without any legally binding provision for those, who on the basis of scripture, reason and theology, are unable to accept that women can be Bishops (or for that matter priests and if they can’t be one they can’t be the other) In the future, should the legislation be passed there will be a Code of Practice which can’t be decided until after the passing of such legislation. So nobody will be aware of what that will contain except supporters of the measure have already stated that they will oppose any further provision for traditionalists and we will have to make do with the provision that diocesan bishops will have to have regard to the situation with objecting parishes.

The new measure has the Appleby wording which uses the word “respect” – i.e Diocesan Bishops will be required to respect traditionalists theological problems with women bishops/priests. The first problem will be that, whilst some will be willing to be co-operative, past experience shows that some will not. And if that is the case, the only avenue open will be means of a judicial review; an expensive option that few, if any, will be able to afford.

If find it totally incredible that those in favour of this innovation, are unable to see that past promises should be kept and that proper, and acceptable provision should be offered to those to whom those promises were originally made. If they can’t keep previous promises it doesn’t bode well for the future should this “unfair, unstable and incoherent” legislation be passed. (Words in italics from the Catholic Group in General Synod). I hope and pray that the Measure will fail to get the necessary two thirds majority.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


If you wanted to stage an election when hardly anyone would bother to vote November would be a good choice to stage it. With dark nights and dubious weather its just the right time to ensure a minimal turnout. And that’s is exactly what happened.Thus it was, that last Thursday, the voters were asked to vote for the newly created posts of Police and Crime Commissioners and they stayed away in their droves. One polling station had not one single vote cast all day.

Another way to ensure that people wouldn’t vote is to give the electorate as little information as possible. Inform them that the posts are “none political” but then get party members to stand on a party ticket using the resources of their respective political machines whilst giving the independent candidates no help whatsoever.

Now, we have these new Police Commissioners elected without a reasonable mandate from the public they are there to represent but who, seemingly, don’t want them. These posts are both unwanted and unnecessary; and the general public have shown their disdain for them by not bothering to vote. In fact, I know of two members of the electorate who went to their poling station and spoilt their ballot papers by writing across them words to the effect of “not wanted nor needed”

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Today we had a Requiem Mass for the repose of those killed in the 1st and 2nd World War who are commemorated on brass rolls of honour in the choir of the chapel and whose histories are in a booklet written by Chapel Warden Doreen Weller. Many of those killed were regular attenders at the Chapel or whose families had been worshippers. The names were read out together with details of when, and where, they had died.


Sir (Revd) Jne Smyth

In the Chapel is the tomb of Sir (Revd) Jne Smyth. It is not certain if he is actually buried here or underneath the chapel in the crypt. Although the original memorial vanished from the Chapel during the 18th century, a ‘rubbing’ has survived of a brass commemorating a master and chaplain who died in 1475 with an interesting epitaph:

“Here lyeth the body of Sir (Revd) Jne Smyth some tyme Maister of this place. A good householder, a fine man, large in almys, he did worship (was a credit) to all his kyne, all the feloship was the meryer that Sir Jne Smyth was ynne. I pray to God to have mercy on his soule and all Christen (souls) He passed to God the 11th day of November in the yere of Grace AD MCCCCLXXV. For Charitie say a paternoster and ave.!”

In accordance with the request that a Paternoster and an Ave be said for him we had Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, sung in latin by a fine local singer and member of the congregation. Something we do every year at the Requiem of Remembrance

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Today Ann and I went to Southend-on-Sea. The weather was near perfect with not a cloud in the sky and it was quite warm.We walked along the sea front enjoying the ozone. Having lived by, or close to the sea, in Portsmouth and Lee-on-the-Solent,for many years we have missed it terribly since we moved in to the London area quite a few years ago now. So we need to go to the sea sometimes.We neither of us can wait to go again.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Today I was the celebrant and preacher at a Solemn Requiem Mass at St. Alban’s, Romford. It was the parade service for the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers. A full church gathered to remember with thanks those who paid the supreme sacrifice in two world wars and countless other conflicts including those have died more recently in Afghanistan. One of the Scouters read the Epistle and some of the Scouts and Cubs led the Intercessions. Father Hingley, the Vicar, was supporting the main civic service as Mayor’s Chaplain.

In my homily I related the story of Raimund Sanders Draper, a British born American who joined the RAF and was stationed at Hornchurch. On take of one day, he realised that his spitfire was going to crash and would hit the nearby school known as Suttons. He took immediate avoiding action which he knew would mean his own death but which would save the lives of the children in the school. In his honour, the school name was changed to Sanders Draper School. I reminded everybody that Jesus had said “Greater love has no man than this, that a person lays down his life for his friends” Those who had died in wars had done just that.

We kept the two minutes silence at 11.00 a.m. followed by the National Anthem. After the service I went to the hall to enjoy a very welcome cup of coffee.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Malala Yousafzai


One month ago 15-year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in Pakistan for campaigning to ensure all girls have access to education.

Her bravery has sparked a global movement and thousands have signed a petition calling on UK politicians to nominate her for the the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous work.

Click here to join me and sign the petition:

Members of Parliament are able to nominate individuals for the Nobel Peace Prize and already UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has indicated that Malala's actions are worthy of considering for the prize.

Malala doesn’t just represent one young woman. She speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender.

Please help reach 100,000 signatures globally by joining me and signing this petition:

Friday, 9 November 2012


(C) KJB-photography 2010


After several days of leaks and speculation it has been announced from 10 Downing Street that The Rt. Revd Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham is to be the new and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

As he prepares for his translation. and when he takes up his new appointment, he will need the support of our prayers

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Today the electorate of the USA go to the polls to elect their next President. Will it be the present President Barack Obama or contender Mitt Romney? Some opinion polls record that they are running neck to neck and that the result is too close to call whilst other say that Obama is slightly ahead. We will know the result in the next 24 hours or so. There are 11 swing states which could go either way, with the three holding the most electoral college votes being Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20) and Ohio (18)

Who ever is elected faces a mammoth task as President of one of. if not the, most powerful nations on earth. At the same time, all the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate is also up for election.

Who ever wins it is important for the UK due to the close ties we have with the USA and it is for this reason that just lately we have had at least half of the News Programmes devoted to what is happening in America. I, for one, will be mighty glad when the result is announced and we can get back to hearing what else is happening in the UK and the rest of the world. When the dust has settled, when the new President has been announced and he is sworn in either for a final four year term or for a new four year term, please keep him in your prayers as he undertakes this mind boggling job.

Monday, 5 November 2012


Yesterday evening Ann and I were just finishing dinner when the phone rang. On the line was a distressed daughter. It seemed that our granddaughter had lost her bear named Sally and the thought was it had probably been left in church. A quick phone call to Father Martin and he proceeded to search the church, the church grounds and the church car park. Nothing found. We kept getting increasingly tearful phone calls; my granddaughter would not settle until Sally was found.

In something like sheer desperation, we decided to go and do another search at church although I was convinced that Sally Bear was at R & S’s house somewhere. We did another extensive search of church, grounds, car park, toilets, play area, etc.etc. but we found no bear. We were very grateful to Father Martin who, having already undertaken one comprehensive search, came and did another with us. We had several phone calls during the proceedings from a daughter who by now was totally convinced that Sally Bear would never be found. Being the sympathetic parents and grandparents that we are, we decided that we would go to their house, as I remained convinced the bear was there, hiding somewhere.

When we arrived we found two distressed parents and one distressed granddaughter – the other being fast asleep. We had a quick look round but saw nothing remotely like Sally Bear. We sat and talked, comforted our granddaughter and then R decided to tidy up. She opened a box to put away a toy and there in the box was ………………you guessed………………….Sally Bear. How she got in the box nobody knew (or at least admitted). My granddaughter went to bed tightly cuddling her bear whilst R & S and Ann collapsed in a flood of tears of relief. The bear that was lost had been found!

We quickly phoned and told Father Martin the good news and then returned home to do the washing up we had left when we went out. What a perfect end to the day!

Sunday, 4 November 2012


The following Press Release was issued by GRAS in October and demonstrates quite clearly that if the legislation is passed for women to be consecrated as Bishops, Catholics will no longer be welcome as part of the Church of England by the supporters of GRAS. But this is nothing new; it has always been the case that Catholics are neither wanted nor will be able to continue as ordinands;  they will be required to assert that which no true Catholic believes that women can be both priests or bishops if GRAS obtains its objectives.


The l993 Act of Synod should be rescinded as a precondition of new legislation.

A single enabling Measure to give clarity and affirmation to women’s full and equal status in all three orders of ministry. The legislation must be unconditional, with no discriminatory provisions.

A Code of Practice designed to recognise that there are essential elements of trust which need to be restored. The integrity and authority of the episcopate must be restored through the assignment of trust in each diocesan bishop, who should be responsible for provisions judged to be right for any in his or her care.

A commitment that, since the Church has accepted the principle of the orders of women as priests and bishops, in future all those being ordained should openly accept those orders as valid in accordance with the existing ecclesiastical rule (Canon A4).

The statement shows very clearly that a Code of Practice, to quote that old cliché, is not fit for purpose. The Bishops Amended clause (5) 1(c) has inserted the word “respect” and it now reads that the Code should cover "the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which Parochial Church Councils issue Letters of Request under section 3". The only way a Bishop’s decision can be challenged under this legislation will be by means of a Judicial Review which most parishes won’t be able to afford.

GRAS states that “the integrity………..of the episcopate must be restored through the assignment of trust in each diocesan bishop”. It is a sad but well acknowledged fact that some of our Bishops have done everything they can to undo Resolutions passed under the Act of Synod when parishes have become vacant and this despite the fact that it was against the ethos of the Act of Synod for them to do so. Where was the “integrity” in that. Are they going to change their ways now? I doubt it. Of course not every bishop has acted in this way but some have and I suspect that in the future, unless there is water tight legal protection they will not hesitate to do so again. The present legislation is not fit for purpose and must be defeated.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


pic_mary-carvingAnn and I have been in Walsingham from Monday to Friday on the second Bible Week, which has replaced the conferences which were held for a number of years first at Caister and then at Pakefield Holiday Camps. Our accommodation was in the Milner Wing which is excellent and en suite. After breakfast, we met in Walsingham Roman Catholic Church for the Keynote Address. The week was based on St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. On Tuesday a really first class address was given  by Bishop John Taylor who, until he retired, was Bishop of St. Albans.On Wednesday and Thursday they were given by Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS. Each afternoon there were optional seminars and then at 5.45 p.m. there was  Solemn Mass in the Shrine Church.

The food, the choice, the quality and quantity served in the Refectory is excellent and we were offered three cooked meals a day with an alternative of the Salad Bar at lunch and dinner.

Every evening, after dinner there was a different service and these included The Ministry of Healing and Songs of Praise. It is intended to make these weeks an annual event. This year all the Shrine Accommodation was used plus some of the accommodation at the RC accommodation building. There were around 220 people present for a truly wonderful week.