Organs belong to us, not the state, Dr Morgan argues

by
28 September 2011

Pat Ashworth reports on the Welsh Governing Body in Lampeter

Pay gesture

BISHOPS and senior clergy in the Church in Wales will forgo their 1.6-per-cent pay rise next year, to show solidarity with those in their parishes facing financial hardship.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan (above), told the Governing Body meeting last week: “Turning down our pay rise will save the Church some money, and will, I hope, be a symbolic gesture to show we understand what the commun­ities we serve are going through at the moment, and we want to support them.”

The majority of the senior staff of the Representative Body (RB), will join in forgoing the rise.

Church schools

CHURCH schools in Wales are now “a feature of the educational land­scape”, a seminal report, Faith in Education, has affirmed.

In a foreword to the document, the Minister for Education affirms the Welsh Government’s belief that schools with a religious character are “one aspect of the diversity within our communities”. It goes on: “Schools in the religious sector wel­come and teach learners with differ-ent needs and from different back­grounds because their vision is the belief that each child is fundament­ally equal and is a unique gift of God.

“Respecting the dignity of all is driven by the concept of loving God through loving your neighbour. . .”

Dr Morgan described these as “strong statements in a Government document”.

Women

Women

THE proportion of women on the Governing Body has increased by 14 per cent in three years, and now stands at 41 per cent, Dr Gill Todd (Swansea and Brecon) (above) re­ported in response to recommenda­tions agreed by the Governing Body in 2008.

Women now hold a number of senior clerical posts; there is an equitable gender balance of church­wardens and treasurers at parish level; all posts are advertised as open equally to men and women; an Equal Opportunities Statement has been approved; and issues of training and selection identified in an inspection in 2009 have been tackled by St Michael’s College, Llandaff.

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The report on the Representation of Women in the Church describes progress on all fronts since 2008 as “remarkable”. An appendix by Canon Peter Sedgwick, Principal and provincial ministry officer at Llandaff, said that the College took the report “with great seriousness”.

“Women are reporting less dis­crimination and bullying, and are feeling more valued,” Dr Todd said. “However, there are still things that need to be addressed.”

Speakers in the debate warmly welcomed the report, and the progress made, but stressed that there was still some way to go, es­pecially in the part played by women on committees, and the number of women for selection for stipendiary ministry. Progress will be monitored, and a further report is scheduled for 2014.

Organ donation

INDIVIDUAL rights and freedoms will be compromised, moral ques­tions raised, and trust in the medical profession undermined, if the Welsh Government goes ahead with legis­lation on organ donation by pre­sumed consent, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has warned.

Dr Morgan is urging the Govern­ment to rethink its proposal of a law that will assume that every­one is willing to donate their organs after death unless they have opted out. Relatives will have the right of veto. The proposals have been welcomed by the Kidney Wales Foundation, which said that the public were two to one in favour of the measure, which had cross-party support.

Dr Morgan acknowledged the “phenomenal” success of organ trans­­plants, and the length of waiting lists, and quoted the fact that three people in the UK died every day because there was no suitable organ. But there was a subtle change of relationship between the indi­vidual and the state, and a question about legitimate power, in presumed consent.

“That is, unless we have opted out, our organs belong to the state and the state has the right to do with them as it wills,” he told the Govern­ing Body. “The implication, by default, is that the state can decide on our behalf.” It was almost “the belief that our bodies are state assets, and therefore at the state’s disposal.”

A government task-force in England had rejected the reasoning, and had argued that presumed consent would not increase the number of organs available for transplant, Dr Morgan said. An All-Party Assembly report had also disapproved. In theological terms, organ donation should be a matter of gift, he suggested.

“Giving organs is the most gen­erous act of self-giving imaginable, but it has to be a choice that is freely embraced, not something that the state assumes. Put more crudely, it turns volunteers into conscripts.”

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The real way forward was a harder drive to encourage people to donate their organs, Dr Morgan suggested. A legally mandated decision where all adults would be required by law to indicate their wishes was being advocated by the chairman of the Royal College of Physicians’ Com­mittee, Professor John Saunders. Leader comment

Equality

THE Church can work in partner­ship with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to “ensure a path to a fairer, more tolerant Wales”, Ann Beynon (above), the Wales Com­mis­sioner for the EHRC, told the meet­ing.

Equality

THE Church can work in partner­ship with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to “ensure a path to a fairer, more tolerant Wales”, Ann Beynon (above), the Wales Com­mis­sioner for the EHRC, told the meet­ing.

The report How Fair is Wales suggests that inequality is socio-economic, with the lives of people from lower socio-economic groups characterised by lower life-ex­­pect­­ancy, lower educational attain­­ment, and lower incomes.

Gender inequality remained, along with the inequality associated with disability, ethnicity, and old age.

The Governing Body passed nem. con. a motion welcoming the report Ministry and People with Disabilities and Additional Needs, endorsing its commitment statement and recom­menda­tions, and commending par­ishes that had already taken steps to develop ministry with and for people with disabilities.

Attendance decline

The Governing Body passed nem. con. a motion welcoming the report Ministry and People with Disabilities and Additional Needs, endorsing its commitment statement and recom­menda­tions, and commending par­ishes that had already taken steps to develop ministry with and for people with disabilities.

Attendance decline

MEMBERSHIP and average attend­ance levels were now at “critical levels”, undermining the ability to maintain diocesan and parish organ­isation, church buildings and min­istry, and staffing structures, Richard Jones, diocesan stewardship adviser (Llandaff), told the meeting.

There was little good news in the annual Membership and Finances Report, he said. The report showed an “alarming rate of decline”: a five-per-cent drop in Easter com­muni­c-ants, and in average attend­ance throughout the year; and significant declines in attendance by young people, and in the number of baptisms and confirmations.

Decisions had to be made about personnel, leadership, training, skills, support, and resources, “perhaps step­ping out­side the box, outside our comfort zone, taking risks for the gospel”.

Youth work

THE principal reason why there were only 14 members of the Gov­erning Body under 40 years of age, in the context of the five priorities identi­fied for the Church in Wales by 2020, was given by Trystan Hughes (Llan­daff). It was because of the low number of young people in the churches, he said. “Reaching out to young people has to be an absolute priority for the Church in Wales. We don’t just have a missing generation, but two, three, and four generations.

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“We are losing people at second­ary level. We need to give time and re­sources to reach out to young people. We need to think radically and later­ally on how we can engage with the young people in our com­mun­ities.

“St Michael’s College should prioritise practical youth-work in their ordination training. We must do something urgently before we have a missing fifth generation.”

Welsh language

THE place of the Welsh language in the life of the Church in Wales has become a live issue in the wider context of recent cuts made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to funding for the Welsh language broadcaster, S4C.

Offering envelopes, printed in English only, had troubled one parishioner because it gave the impression that the Church in Wales was an English Church. Dr Morgan responded in his presidential address that the Church in Wales was not there to preserve or make an idol of the language, but that it was a bilingual Church that sought to serve every community in the land.

Notice boards, offering envelopes, hymn- and prayer-books ought to be available in every church in both languages, even if no Welsh services were held. The Church in Wales had made a mistake in producing English-only prayer-books alongside bilingual ones in the 1980s, he said.

The symbolic and psychological effect of not giving it a proper place in all churches should never be underestimated. “I know some of the problems: few vocations come from Welsh-speak­ing parishes; the Angli­cisa­tion of what were once pre­dominantly Welsh-speaking areas through holi­day and retirement homes has increased; and there is a paucity of Welsh-speaking clergy.

“But . . . there are Welsh speakers in every parish, and if that fact is not reflected in our worship and our life, then all of us are diminished.”

The Bishops and Stand­ing Com­mittee have set up a working party “to consider what good prac­tice in the provision of services and other ministry bilingually might mean”.

Falling income

THE net income of the Represent­ative Body (RB) dropped from £15.2 million to £14.6 million between 2009 and 2010. It faced the prospect of a “significant deficit of between £1 million and £2 million per annum, for a number of years to come”, the RB chairman, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, told the meeting.

“If I remind you that the net in­come in 2008 was £19 million, then you will understand and have some consideration of the very direct effect the banking crisis and the economic recession has had on the RB’s ability to provide financial support for the wider Church.”

The actuarial value of the Clergy Pension Scheme had identified in­creased costs of £750,000 per annum, but Lord Rowe-Beddoe assured clergy that the scheme was still fully final.

Another positive message came from James Turner, deputy chair­man, who emphasised the RB’s com­mitment to provide assist­ance to par­ishes in order to keep parish share in­creases to a minimum.

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