on business from the General Synod at Church House, Westminster Thursday 14 February 2008
The Synod began discussion of a paper on Crown Appointments. This was precipitated by Gordon Brown’s announcement last summer that he wished to cease an active role in appointments. The Synod considered a paper in July and submissions were made. The present paper contains proposals which will be taken to the Government. If then agreed various steps will be required to implement the proposals.
Primarily this affects the appointment of Suffragan Bishops, Deans, Cathedral Canons and Crown Livings, but there are a variety of others.
See Church Society submission.
Although there were concerns about some of the details of the report the general tone of the debate was in favour and in the end it was passed by 290 votes to 16.
Anthony Archer put a following motion. At present when an Archbishop of Canterbury is to be appointed the Prime Minister appoints the Chairman of the Crown Nominations Committee. A change to this arrangement had not been suggested by either the Prime Minister of the report just debated. Mr Archer proposed that the chairman in future should be appointed by the Synod Appointments Committee as happens for the appointment of the Archbishop of York. This vote was defeated but only by 142 votes to 107 (57%). One possible change to the present arrangement is to remove from the Chairman the casting vote so that in the event of a tied vote (which happens when deciding which of two names to put first) the chairman’s vote would be discounted.
The Synod began debating Anglica-Roman Catholic relations. The paper being discussed is from the House of Bishops but underlying this is a report entitled ‘Growing Together in Unity and Mission’ from IARCCUM.
Analysis of IARCCUM report.
The Bishop of Chichester gave a candid assessment of where relationships have got to and how recent developments have frustrated the ecumaniacs agenda. On the one side the revisionist influence in the Anglican Communion alarmed Rome and led them to pull back from discussions. They have also become unclear as to who, if anyone, speaks for the Anglican Communion. At the same time Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope and previously, has made sure that Roman dogma has been more clearly expounded and this has caused some cooling, even anger in the process.
There were three amendments to the motion two of which served to nuance it even further to show that the Synod was unhappy with aspects of ha has been done. The third sought to ensure that all the ARCIC reports are debated in Synod. There has been consternation that certain reports have not been brought to the Synod but people assume that they represent the mind of the Church of England. The Bishop of Chichester asserted that there had been a desire to delay debate until all the ARCIC reports could be treated as a whole. This was an interesting revelation and clearly one of which most people were unaware.
The amended motion, which is now fairly bland, was passed with only modest opposition.
Detention without Charge
The final debate of this Group of Sessions was on a motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the subject of Detention without Charge. There was general concern, reflected in the paper presented, about the government proposals to increase the time limit for detention without charge from 28 to 42 days. The Synod passed the motion with a large majority.