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Day four: Thursday

14 February 2008

THE General Synod, on the last day of its meeting, debated Crown appointments, relations with the Roman Catholic Church, and detention without charge.

The Synod approved the Archbishops’ Council’s proposals for the procedures for Crown appointments if the Prime Minister’s involvement is withdrawn as expected.

The vote on the report was overwhelming: 290 votes to 16, with 16 recorded abstentions; but the Synod was more narrowly divided on a following motion from Anthony Archer (St Albans) seeking to remove the Prime’s Minister’s part in appointing the chair of the Crown Nominations Commission in the case of a vacancy in the see of Canterbury.

 His motion was nevertheless lost by 142 to 107, with 20 recorded abstentions.

The debate revealed differences in the Synod over whether it was desirable to continue with the involvement of a civil servant in the appointments process, and concern, should this be retained, about the status of the civil servant so appointed.

A debate on the state of relations with the Roman Catholic Church took place next, although the ARCIC report on the Blessed Virgin Mary, which the Synod had been due to debate, had been withdrawn from the Synod’s agenda.

In his opening speech, the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd John Hind, spoke of his “sadness and frustration” and “the wreckage of recent years”, for which Anglicans were not wholly to blame. The Synod carried a motion endorsing the aim of closer collaboration expressed in the report from the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, of which the Bishop said: “It is pretty much a miracle we have a text at all.”

In the afternoon, the Synod went on to debate a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on detention without charge. It carried a motion from Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford) expressing “grave concern” about any extension of the current 28-day maximum period for detention and, while welcoming the release of most UK prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, deploring the continued holding of prisoners there without charge or due process. It asked the Government to use “all available means” to press the US administration to remedy this. It also sought an “early review” of the restrictions on individuals under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

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