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General Synod: In brief

by
30 November 2012

A MOTION from Wakefield diocesan synod calling for a "theologically informed national debate about the organisational shape of the Church" will not be debated until after the Synod has voted on the Dioceses' Commission draft scheme for West Yorkshire. A motion from Bradford diocese calling for more freedom over the legal names of dioceses has also been put on hold pending resolution of the proposed new diocese of Leeds. The chairman of the Business Committee, the Ven. Julian Henderson, reported that the committee had received legal advice warning that a debate on the motions could "prejudice the formal statutory process".

Chris Pye (Liverpool) repeated the call for the draft West Yorkshire scheme to be parked to allow a "national debate on the structure of the C of E to take place". The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, rejected the call for the reorganisation scheme to be delayed. "This is classic distraction stuff, kicking something into the long grass that demands a decision and action by saying we need more time and a broader strategy."

THE recent relaxation of the permitted hours of civil weddings did not apply to churches, and reviews conducted in 2006 and 2007 concluded that no change was needed to the canons. Philip Fletcher (Archbishops' Council) said: "Nothing that has subsequently emerged from the Weddings Project has suggested that the current restriction, which takes account of the public nature of marriage and the interests of clergy and lay participants, is unreasonable."

THE review of the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on civil partnerships would be completed in time for a discussion in December, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said. The wider review on human sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, would complete its report in time for consideration in December 2013. Members of the review group "were selected for the range of views they brought to the subject, not their sexuality or marital status", he said.

THE Synod praised the Bishop of Liverpool with a period of prolonged applause for his "painstaking and compassionate" work chairing the independent panel that reviewed documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster. The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said: "It is a very fine thing that the Church, through the Bishop of Liverpool, should have shared in the work of truth-seeking and truth-telling. We pray that the families bereaved at Hillsborough are finding freedom from the oppression of half-truths and, now that the truth has been told, can trust that justice will follow."

THE ecclesiastical lawyer Geoffrey Tattersall QC (Manchester) asked the House of Bishops a series of questions arising out of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visitation into safeguarding issues in Chichester diocese. The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group, which he chairs, was considering the interim report from the commissaries with the Clergy Discipline Commission. A national conference would be held in January to provide an opportunity for all diocesan safeguarding advisers to discuss the Chichester report.

WITHOUT breaching confidentiality, the Prime Minister's and Archbishops' appointments secretaries intended to discuss the Crown Nominations Commission to see "whether there are any lessons from the latest process", the Secretary General, William Fittall, said, "rather than rushing to launch a wider review now, not least to avoid signalling any impression of dissatisfaction with the appointment just made."

THE Secretary General, William Fittall, defended the Clerk to the Synod, Dr Colin Podmore (pictured with him, left), against accusations of a conflict of interest after it had been announced that he was resigning in the spring to take up the directorship of Forward in Faith. He remarked: "I do want to say something quite bold at this point. All of us who work for the Church come from somewhere, and I do slightly resent the suggestion . . ." At this point, he was interrupted by spontaneous prolonged support from Synod members. "I think I will stop there," he said.

IN A written answer, the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, who chairs the Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee, said that two archbishops, three diocesan bishop, and eight suffragan bishops had transferred to common tenure. "We are not able to provide figures for bishops on a diocesan basis, and this would run the risk of individuals' being identified."

 

 

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