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THE year began with concerns
about the violence in Syria. The rebellion had already been going
on for ten months, and an estimated 5000 were dead. The figure now
is more than 40,000. Egypt, meanwhile, celebrated the first
anniversary of the uprising against President Mubarak. Asssisted
dying was in the news again, as Lord Falconer announced that his
self-appointed "commission" had found in its favour.
The Occupy protest outside
St Paul's was declared unlawful in the High Court, which granted
the City of London Corporation the right to remove it. Five bishops
led a successful rebellion in the Lords to exclude child benefit
from a government cap in the Welfare Reform Bill. Attacks on
Christians in northern Nigeria amounted to "ethnic and religious
cleansing" according to a little-known diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd
The gay-marriage issue made
an early appearance, as the Archbishop of York criticised the Prime
Minister, stating that heterosexual marriage "is set in tradition
and history". An unnamed Scottish woman was fined and given three
points on her licence for reading the Bible while driving on the
THE February General Synod
had its final opportunity to debate the contents of the draft
women-bishops Measure. Members were given the chance to ask the
House of Bishops to reintroduce the concept of authority derived
from the Measure for traditionalists. A compromise was carried,
asking the Bishops not to amend the basic Measure
The Queen described the C of
E as "commonly under-appreciated". Local councils could continue to
say prayers at meetings if they were not part of the agenda, the
High Court ruled, after a challenge in Bideford. The Coalition for
Marriage (i.e. against gay marriage) was launched. To date, nearly
620,000 have signed its petition. The Occupy protesters outside St
Paul's were forcibly removed in the early hours of 28 February. The
Dean and Chapter said that they were committed to pursuing the
issues raised by the camp in their teaching and relations with the
The 12 Zurbarán paintings
were finally secured for Auckland Castle, thanks to a deal with
Jonathan Ruffer brokered by a little-known diocesan bishop, the Rt
Revd Justin Welby.
THE Government begins its
consultation about same-sex marriage. The Dean of St Albans, the
Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, criticised the Church for its opposition
to the plan, calling it the "last refuge of prejudice" (and, in
August, "morally contemptible"). Dr Williams announced his
resignation, heralding in a lucrative few months for the
The succession of diocesan
votes on the Anglican Covenant finished, ending with its defeat by
23 dioceses to 15. It later emerged that, had 17 people changed
their vote, the Covenant would have passed.
A fragment of papyrus
bearing a segment of St Mark's Gospel was dated to the first
century, making it the earliest known manuscript of that Gospel, if
confirmed. An official report said that more than one third of
Britain's churches and religious buildings had been damaged by
crime in the past year. The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced
that churches must begin to pay VAT on repairs, at an estimated
cost to the Church of £20 million.
US believers thought that
Jesus shared their political opinions, whatever they were, a poll
CRITICISM of Christians in
the UK did not amount to persecution, a new report concluded, but
it was discrimination, and needed to be halted before it grew
worse. Dr David Drew argued that sending an emailed prayer had
contributed to his dismissal from Walsall Manor Hospital. An
employment tribunal disagreed.
In his Easter sermon, Dr
Williams suggested that the tide might, in fact, be turning towards
Christianity: "More useful than the passing generation of gurus
The Fellowship of Confessing
Anglicans (formerly GAFCON) met in London. The Archbishop of
Canterbury should no longer have an automatic right to chair
Primates' Meetings, it concluded. Three members of a Moscow band,
Pussy Riot, remained in prison for their anti-Putin demonstration
in the Orthodox cathedral in Moscow. Protests in the West were
dwarfed by criticism of the band by the Moscow faithful. Fabrice
Muamba, a Christian footballer for Bolton Wanderers, said that his
recovery was "more than a miracle", after his heart stopped for 78
minutes in the Tottenham ground during a game.
THE Prime Minister's
rejection of a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions was
"shameful", said the RC Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh,
Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court judge,
launched the Marriage Foundation to promote marriage and provide
support for couples. The House of Bishops amended the women-bishops
legislation, mentioning the "theological convictions" of PCCs for
the first time.
The Chancellor agreed a deal
over VAT on church repairs: churches must pay it, but they can
expect a full refund for at least the next three years. The number
of people using food banks had doubled in the past year, the
Trussell Trust announced. Economic instability in Greece created
uncertainty about the future of the euro. The Dalai Lama came to
London to collect his £1.1-million Templeton Prize: he would not
keep the money, "though my pocket may complain".
The bishops in Sudan called
for an end to renewed border violence. President Obama gave his
backing to same-sex marriage: "It's also the Golden Rule: treat
others the way you would want to be treated."
CELEBRATIONS to mark the
Queen's Diamond Jubilee spread across the country at the start of
June, despite a soggy weekend. Dr Williams noted: "She has made her
public happy, and all the signs are that she is herself happy."
Church officials calculated that a change in Gift Aid to include
unregistered small donations could bring in £13 million, on top of
the £84 million reclaimed at present.
The Archbishops' Council,
informed by a paper from the Mission and Public Affairs Council,
criticised the "travesty" of Britain's relationship with Europe,
and the impression it gave of "slowly drifting towards the exit".
Dr Richard Scott, a GP in Margate, was reprimanded for discussing
faith with a vulnerable patient. The scheme to combine three West
Yorkshire dioceses progressed, despite reservations expressed by
Wakefield. At the Rio summit on sustainable development, observers
were shocked at the lack of urgency expressed by global leaders
when facing the problems of poverty, debt, and environmental
A scale model of St Bride's,
Fleet Street, part of the church's £2.5-million fund-raising drive,
was made entirely of sponge cake.
AFTER a long debate, the
General Synod declined to give final approval to the women-bishops
legislation. Instead, unhappy about the House of Bishops'
amendments, it deferred a decision until November, asking the
Bishops to reconsider. Jewish groups criticised the Synod's support
for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
The Olympics began, with an
acclaimed opening ceremony. Many churches provided stewards
(Gamesmakers) and pastors for visitors and athletes. The Olympic
torch passed through 8000 pairs of hands belonging to many of the
most community-spirited citizens.
The United Reformed Church
became the first to encourage civil partnerships on its premises.
The Episcopal Church in the US voted at its General Convention to
permit transgendered people to be ordained. Church leaders appealed
for more effort to be made to end the conflict in Syria.
A colony of the British
black bee, thought to be extinct, was found in the roof of a
Northumbrian church. A couple exchanged rings flown to them by a
barn owl during their wedding service.
AT THE Olympics, spectators
noted the number of religious gestures made by successful athletes.
Sunday-trading laws were relaxed for the duration. The C of E
divested itself of its £1.9-million holdings in News Corporation,
Rupert Murdoch's media company. Attempts to reform the House of
Lords were shelved.
A total of 23,000 students
took RS A level, the highest ever (7000 male students and 16,000
female). Christians in Egypt expressed their concern after Islamist
majorities prevailed in the election. President Mohamed Morsi said:
"Stop asking who is a Copt, a Muslim, a Salafi . . . All I see is
that we are all Egyptians." Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old with
learning difficulties, was arrested in Pakistan after being accused
of burning pages of the Qur'an. The accusations by an imam turned
out to be false.
In South Africa, church
leaders mediated in a mining strike, after police had shot and
killed 34 protesters. The three members of Pussy Riot were jailed
in Moscow. (One was later released.)
torrential rain, unlike other festivals. The University of
Manchester installed a "Pray-o-Mat", a converted photo booth
offering more than 300 multifaith prayers.
FOUR cases of alleged
religious discrimination were heard by the European Court of Human
Rights in Strasbourg. A UK government lawyer argued that having the
freedom to resign meant that employees could not suffer religious
discrimination. An amendment to the women-bishops legislation based
on respect, suggested by the Revd Janet Appleby, was adopted by the
House of Bishops. The Crown Nominations Commission met to choose
the next Archbishop of Canterbury, but failed to reach
The diocese of Chichester
was criticised for its "dysfunctional" child-protection safeguards
after a visitation commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. An
independent panel into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, chaired by
the Bishop of Liverpool, was highly critical of the police. The
United States was denounced across the Middle East for a badly made
film, Innocence of Muslims, depicting Muhammad, made by an
Egyptian Copt in California.
The Revd Leah Philbrick, the
first woman to play in a Church Times Cricket Cup Final,
was part of the winning Southwark side.
Dr Williams, in Rome,
addressed the Synod of Bishops, summoned to mark the 50th
anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. He told them of the
importance of contemplation: "What people of all ages recognise in
these practices is the possibility, quite simply, of living more
humanly." On the home front, he began a YouTube campaign in support
of the draft women-bishops legislation, as opposed to the Forward
in Faith Assembly, which urged its rejection.
The US Episcopal Church
began disciplinary proceedings against the Bishop of South
Carolina, the Rt Revd Mark Lawrence, saying that he had "abandoned"
the Church. A chink of hope appeared for the Anglican Church in
Zimbabwe, as the Supreme Court in Harare heard its argument for the
return of its property, annexed by the former bishop, Nolbert
The Scouts' religious pledge
came under fire. A Christian B&B owner, Susanne Wilkinson, was
convicted of discriminating against a gay couple, Michael Black and
John Morgan, by refusing them a double room. The Food Standards
Authority raised doubts and hackles about re-using jars to sell
CHURCHES on the East Coast
of the United States were heavily involved in alleviating the
hardship caused by Hurricane Sandy. Barack Obama won another term
as US President, despite opposition from religious conservatives
who favoured his Mormon opponent, Mitt Romney. The Anglican
Consultative Council, meeting in New Zealand, heard Dr Williams
describe "our wonderful, quarrelsome, diverse, untidy Anglican
Communion". The Rt Revd Justin Welby was named for Canterbury.
The General Synod met to
consider giving final approval to the women-bishops legislation. It
gained the required two-thirds majorities in the Houses of Bishops
and Clergy, but fell in the House of Laity by six votes. Aid
agencies expressed anxiety about child soldiers and the abduction
of girls, as Rwandan-backed militia made large gains in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. Anglicans in Zimbabwe rejoiced after
a court ruled that Nolbert Kunonga and his supporters must leave
the churches and schools that they had appropriated.
In an experiment, 71
atheists agreed to pray for God to reveal himself to them. Two said
that they had come to faith.
THE House of Bishops
promised to reintroduce legislation to enable the consecration of
women as bishops in time for the July General Synod meeting next
year. In a Commons debate, MPs were critical of the Church's
inability to agree. The Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria
Miller, described forthcoming legislation to permit same-sex
couples to marry in church. This included a "quadruple lock" to
protect the Church's interest in the event of a legal
Figures from the 2011 Census
were published. Those describing themselves as Christians declined
by 13 per cent over ten years, to 59 per cent. Charities criticised
proposed welfare reforms as being biased against the poor. The
Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said in the wake of
the inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson that the press had proved its
inability to police itself. The Doha climate summit failed to
provide any practical help for countries affected by the
York Minster announced that it was dressing its stone with an
olive-oil-based compound to help preserve it.