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UK news in brief

17 April 2015


Canon Chris Chivers has been named as the next Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge. Currently the Vicar of John Keble Church, Mill Hill, in London, he trained at Westcott House, and has been a Canon of both St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, and Blackburn Cathedral. "I look forward to being a strong advocate of the residential training so vital to my own ministerial formation and the ongoing health of the Church," he said.

A FORMAL complaint has been lodged with the General Medical Council against the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and three of its members, over the college's "misleading" public statements about homosexuality. The complainants accuse the college of a U-turn on its position, set out during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, that sexual orientation was biological and fixed at birth. Dr Peter May, a former GP and one of the complainants, said: "There is good evidence that sexual orientation can change. Yet the largest UK providers of psychotherapy and counselling . . . have all made ethical policy statements banning any therapy which seeks to facilitate such a change." In January, 14 UK organisations, including NHS England, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which stated that "efforts to try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful." The complaint was examined at a conference held on Tuesday "exploring unwanted same-sex attractions", organised by Core Issues Trust, Christian Concern, and Anglican Mainstream. Last week, President Obama called for an end to psychiatric therapies that sought to change the sexual orientation of those under 18.

THE Revd Professor Alister McGrath has been appointed Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London - a position established more than 400 years ago. He will deliver a series of free public lectures on "The Big Questions", exploring the relationship between religion and science. 

A CHURCH OF ENGLAND priest, Canon Charles Richardson, took his own life in November after being arrested over the possession of indecent images of children, an inquest found last week. He had emailed the police "expressing remorse", the Coroner's court in Folkestone Magistrates' Court was told, the BBC reported. He had been due to answer bail, knowing that he was likely to be charged. At the time, he was Vicar of St John's, East Dulwich. He had been "fully co-operating" with the police.

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to canonise the Roman Catholic priest, Fr Thomas Byles, who stayed on board the Titanic, praying with passengers and helping them on to lifeboats rather than boarding one himself. Fr Graham Smith - who is the current incumbent of Fr Byles's church, St Helen's, Chipping Ongar - is leading the calls for canonisation. "He's an extraordinary man who gave his life for others," he told the BBC."We are hoping and praying that he will be recognised as one of the saints within our canon."


College head:

Correction: The Bishop of Birmingham is the Rt Revd David Urquhart, not Colin Urquhart (News, 10 April)


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