Williams casts vote to flatten clergy stipends
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
by staff reporters
Pressure group: the Archdeacon of Leicester, the Ven. Richard Atkinson (
second from right), hands a petition with 1000 signatures gathered by
Priests for Women Bishops to Christopher Smith, chief of staff at Lambeth
THE PROSPECT of trials for heresy receded at the weekend, when the one House
voted down a scheme to hold the clergy to account for doctrinal, ritual and
In an eventful meeting in York, the Church of England’s General Synod
affiliated itself to the Trade Justice Movement, pledged to tackle drug abuse,
lamented the incidence of domestic violence, and challenged the Government on
the size of gaol populations.
The agenda for the four-day meeting contained less legislative business than
usual, allowing the Synod time for more debates on contemporary issues. One
issue was thrust upon it, when Fathers 4 Justice carried out its threat to
target cathedrals (
News, 9 July) and disrupted the Sunday eucharist at York Minster. A verger
was badly bruised and a glass door cracked as a group of men muscled their way
into the service. They left after Dr Williams allowed them an opportunity to
state their grievance.
Synod debates were calmer, though there was anger among some of the laity
when the clergy narrowly defeated a scheme to set up new disciplinary tribunals
for doctrinal, ritual and ceremonial cases. The bishops had voted two to one
and the laity three to one in favour (
Leader comment, page 6).
The Archbishop of Canterbury was among those who voted to phase out pay
differentials between bishops and clergy, though this motion was defeated.
Dr Williams urged Christians to campaign for restorative rather than
retributive justice. He said that politicians of persuasions agreed that the
present sentencing policy was scandalous in the way that it failed culprits and
victims alike. Similar calls for church action came in debates about trade
justice, domestic violence, and drug abuse.
The Church was challenged to consider itself an integral part of Europe,
and, in a debate on the mission agencies, of the world.
The Synod appeared to approve an amendment asking for the scrapping of any
geographical criterion for a church wedding; but when it was asked to vote by
Houses, the amendment was defeated. Instead, the Synod approved a system
whereby couples need show only one of a much wider set of “demonstrable
connections” than at present.
In the liturgical business, the Synod debated the weekday lectionary; and
new resources for festivals and feasts. It also took note of new penitential
In a short debate, members added their weight to a campaign to ensure that
Christmas stamps always have a Christian theme.
The Synod agreed to cut its membership by more than 100; looked approvingly
at electronic voting; and agreed budgets for 2005.
“How about a compromise — Dr Williams in a red suit and hat with a sack of
presents?” Cartoon Noel Ford