THE resignation of Dr Rowan Williams on the last day of 2012
meant that the year began with a vacancy in Canterbury; the Rt Revd
Justin Welby was formally elected to succeed him.
The lifting of the 2011 moratorium on the nomination to the
episcopate of clergy in celibate civil partnerships divided opinion
sharply. Church leaders in Northern Ireland condemned Loyalist
rioting in Belfast. The European Court of Human Rights reprimanded
the UK Government over its treatment of Nadia Eweida, banned from
wearing a small cross at work. Statutory fees for C of E weddings
and funerals rose by 40 per cent, and BBC Radio 2 moved Sunday
Half-Hour from its traditional evening slot to 6 a.m. Open
Doors' World Watch List reported a dramatic increase in the
persecution of Christians in Africa during 2012. Peers raised
concerns about the implications of the proposed Succession to the
A motion of no confidence in the chairman of the General Synod's
House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings, was voted down. The Bishop of
Stepney's wife went to the aid of Syrian refugees, crossing the
border with £2000 strapped to her body. The Government introduced
the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill into the Commons.
THE QUEEN led the tributes as the Church Times
celebrated its sesquicentenary.
Pope Benedict XVI stunned observers with the announcement that
he would abdicate at the end of the month, aged 85. The last Pope
to do this was Gregory XII in 1412.
The Bishop of Oxford led concerns about the Government's
policies on the provision of RE in schools. The Marriage (Same Sex
Couples) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons by
400 votes to 175.
The One Billion Rising movement organised a worldwide day of
dance to protest against violence against women and girls.
In the House of Lords, the Bishop of Leicester criticised the
Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill, arguing that as it stood it would
contribute to child poverty.
The second Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature, sponsored
by the Church Times, took place in warm Oxfordshire
sunshine. Speakers included Wendy Cope, Francis Spufford, Patrick
Gale, Jasper Fforde, James Runcie, John Pritchard, and Stephen
THE diocesan synods of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds voted in
favour of being subsumed into a new "super-diocese" in Yorkshire.
Wakefield rejected the proposals.
The College of Cardinals met in conclave to elect a new Pope.
After the white smoke appeared, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires,
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, appeared on the balcony of St
Peter's as Pope Francis.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury was enthroned in Canterbury
Cathedral, having undertaken a pilgrimage of prayer around the
country. The Archbishop of York represented the C of E at Pope
Francis's inauguration mass at the Vatican.
The BBC apologised for a sketch in which Rowan Atkinson played
an Archbishop of Canterbury who claimed that prayer did not work.
It drew more than 2000 complaints, and was removed from BBC
iPlayer. The Bishop of Winchester suspended the Dean of Jersey, the
Very Revd Robert Key, over his handling of an abuse allegation.
The Disasters Emergency Committee began an appeal for funds to
help efforts to alleviate the constantly deteriorating situation in
EASTER DAY was the coldest on record. Thousands of ewes and
their lambs were thought to have died in heavy snowfall and
freezing temperatures. The Bishop of Hereford called for more
support for Britain's farming community.
The Dean of Durham challenged the new manager of Sunderland FC,
Paolo di Canio, about his alleged fascism. (Di Canio was sacked in
September after 13 games.)
The former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher died, and the Queen led
the mourners at the ceremonial funeral in St Paul's Cathedral.
Honest to God turned 50. The £1.1-million Templeton Prize
was awarded to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Pope Tawadros II criticised the President of Egypt, Mohammed
Morsi, for failing to provide adequate protection for the Coptic
community after a mob attacked St Mark's Cathedral, in Cairo,
killing a number of worshippers. Morsi was deposed in July.
The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Yohanna Ibrahim,
and his Greek Orthodox counterpart, the Most Revd Paul Yazigi, were
kidnapped in northern Syria.
THE Bishop-elect of Meath & Kildare, the Ven. Leslie
Stevenson, withdrew his acceptance of the see after revelations
about his personal life appeared in the Irish press.
Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York, was revealed to have
assets of more than $2 billion. Rare books - 1400 of them,
apparently stolen more than 40 years ago - were returned to Lambeth
The 34th Kirchentag, in Hamburg, drew more than 130,000
worshippers. The Archbishop of York announced an inquiry into
allegations of abuse against a former Dean of Manchester, the late
Robert Waddington. All complaints against the Rt Revd Wallace Benn
over safeguarding failures during his time as Bishop of Lewes were
Pope Tawadros II travelled to Rome for a meeting with Pope
Francis, where they discussed the problems facing Christians in the
Middle East. Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered on a busy street in
Anglicans in the diocese of Manicaland, in Zimbabwe, returned to
their churches after the Zimbabwean Supreme Court ruled in their
THE Queen gave thanks for the 60th anniversary of the Coronation
in a service at Westminster Abbey. The Archbishop of York was
treated for cancer. The Syrian crisis continued to worsen, and the
UN launched the largest appeal in its history to provide aid.
It was announced that the General Synod discussions in July
would be preceded by small-group discussions, led by David Porter,
Archbishop Welby's Director for Reconciliation. The Guides revealed
their plans to remove the religious aspect of their pledge.
Archbishop Welby met Pope Francis at the Vatican, before
embarking on a five-day tour of the Middle East. Iran elected a
moderate candidate, Hassan Rowhani, as President. Anti-government
demonstrations spread across Turkey. The Anglican Church in Hong
Kong became the seventh province to adopt the Anglican
Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, which
offered homosexuals "orientation-change" therapy, announced that it
would close, and apologised to the LGBTQ community for any "pain
and hurt" it had caused.
THE General Synod met at York, and carried a motion from the
House of Bishops to enable new legislation to be drafted to enable
women to serve as bishops in the C of E. It also approved the
creation of a new "super-diocese" of West Yorkshire & the Dales
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent;
Archbishop Welby conceded that the Church's opposition to the Bill
had been "utterly overwhelmed". A cross-party parliamentary group
recommended that the Abortion Act be urgently reformed to end
discrimination against the unborn disabled.
The Lord Chief Justice ruled that a man who suffered from
locked-in syndrome before his death in 2012 had not had the right
to ask a doctor to end his life.
Archbishop Welby vowed to force payday lender Wonga out of
business with church-run credit unions. Pope Francis celebrated a
mass on Copacabana beach, at the end of the World Youth Day
celebrations, with an estimated congregation of three million.
Royal salutes were fired in London, and bells pealed from
churches up and down the country to mark the birth of Prince
THE number of refugees from Syria reached two million, and the
Syrian government was alleged to have used chemical weapons against
civilians. Parliament was recalled, but the Prime Minister's motion
of military intervention under a UN mandate was voted down.
In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood supporters destroyed Christian
churches, businesses, and homes. Robert Mugabe won another
five-year term as President of Zimbabwe: Christian Aid suggested
that the absence of bloodshed in the elections masked other events
that undermined the legitimacy of the process.
The Revd Paul Nicolson, 81, appeared in court in London after
refusing to pay his council tax in a protest against benefit
changes. Thieves stole two rare 15th-century panels from the rood
screen at Holy Trinity, Torbryan.
Archbishop Welby declined the RSPCA's invitation to become its
vice-patron. Dr Glenn Davies was enthroned as Archbishop of Sydney.
Greenbelt enjoyed its last ever festival, its 40th, at Cheltenham
Racecourse, starring Clare Balding, Richard Coles, and Barbara
Brown Taylor. The festival moves to Boughton House next year.
POPE FRANCIS led a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace
in the Middle East, as thousands of refugees continued to flood out
of Syria. Clergy were threatened with arrest as they protested
against an arms fair at the ExCel Centre. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
succeeded Lord Sacks as Chief Rabbi.
The Governing Body of the Church in Wales approved a Bill to
enable the consecration of women to the episcopate, without
statutory safeguards for those unable in conscience to accept their
A suicide-bomb attack on All Saints', Peshawar, killed more than
100 worshippers. In Kenya, the Islamist group al-Shabab claimed
responsibility for an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in
Nairobi which left more than 60 people dead.
The Home Office minister Jeremy Browne said that there should be
a national debate on whether young women should be protected from
having the niqab imposed upon them. The diocese of London won the
Church Times Cricket Cup, beating Lichfield by 8
THE charity Christians Against Poverty said that a survey showed
that nearly 80 per cent of people who took out payday loans had
done so to be able to afford food. OFSTED inspectors urged the
Government to improve the provision of religious education in
schools. They reported that in some schools RE had been virtually
abandoned, and that many teachers were afraid of giving offence
while teaching the subject.
Archbishop Welby presided at the eucharist in All Saints'
Cathedral, Nairobi, on the day before GAFCON II began, but did not
attend the conference. Cyclone Phailin destroyed homes and crops,
and displaced more than one million people from their homes in the
Indian state of Orissa. Masked gunmen opened fire on worshippers as
they left a Coptic church in Cairo after a wedding, killing four
members of the same family.
The steering committee for the new women-bishops legislation
recommended the appointment of an ombudsman to deal with future
disputes. Prince George was baptised by the Archbishop of
Canterbury in the chapel of St James's Palace.
TYPHOON HAIYAN caused devastation in the Philippines, killing
more than 6000. The Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama
pleaded for international help after more than 40 members of his
flock were killed during the occupation of the town of Sadad, north
of Damascus, by Islamist militants.
The World Council of Churches met in Busan, South Korea. The
General Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of proceding with new
women-bishops legislation. Lord Carey warned that the Church might
only be a generation away from extinction.
The Pilling report on human sexuality recommended allowing
consenting clergy to "mark" same-sex unions in church. The
Government announced that it would cap the interest charged by
GAFCON 2 met in Nairobi, and promised to act as an
extra-territorial province for conservatives. Al Madinah Free
School in Derby was heavily criticised by OFSTED.
Channel 5 started broadcasting a mini-series, The
Bible. Worshippers in the diocese of Exeter were issued with
heated cushions in an attempt to reduce churches' energy bills.
TRIBUTES were paid to Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95.
The Most Revd Patricia Storey, Bishop of Meath & Kildare,
became the first Anglican woman bishop in the British Isles. Eight
senior women clergy joined the C of E House of Bishops for the
first time, an interim measure until the first women bishops are
Archbishop Welby invited senior executives from energy companies
to a meeting at Lambeth Palace, after serious criticism of the rise
in heating bills. Serious unrest broke out in the Central African
Republic, driven by sectarian violence. The effect of the Syrian
conflict on an estimated 1.1 million children was highlighted by
the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
The biggest storm surge in the North Sea for 60 years flooded a
number of areas, but warnings and defences were better than in
In the courts, Celestina Mba, who resigned over having to work
on Sunday, was found to have been treated fairly, but Lord's Day
observance was recognised as a core belief. A wedding dispute saw
the Church of Scientology recognised as a religion.