Church of England Banned from Offering Same-sex Marriages by Government Law

The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced.

The BBC has the breaking news:

Other religious organisations will be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said.

But she added that the Church of England and Church in Wales had “explicitly” stated strong opposition and would not be included.

The plans are due to be introduced before the next election, in 2015.

Labour backs the changes, which apply to England and Wales, and urged ministers not to be “too reserved” in promoting them.

The Church of England and Roman Catholics, among other denominations, have voiced opposition to same-sex marriage and are expected to oppose the bill, even with its caveats.

But some religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism, are in favour.

In her statement, Mrs Miller promised a “quadruple lock” to protect religious freedom, involving:

  • No religious organisation or individual minister being compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises
  • Making it unlawful for religious organisations or their ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so
  • Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple
  • The legislation explicitly stating that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples and that Canon Law, which bans same-sex weddings, will continue to apply.
Mrs Miller said the Church of England and Church in Wales had “explicitly stated” their opposition to offering same-sex ceremonies, so the government would “explicitly state that it will be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples”.

She also said: “I am absolutely clear that no religious organisation will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples, and I would not bring in a bill which would allow that…

Rest here.




Arizona Gets First Ordinariate Priest (with Congregation)

They come from the Anglican Church of America:

Former Anglican priest Lowell Andrews, of Payson, Arizona, will be ordained a Catholic priest on Sunday, Dec. 16, and 30 of his parishioners will be received into the Catholic Church as part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a new national entity created by Pope Benedict XVI.

The ordinariate, which is equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope, was established on January 1, 2012 for Anglican clergy and groups seeking to become Catholic, while retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage and liturgy.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas will ordain Andrews on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, 2:00 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Nativity, 1414 North Easy Street (corner of Bradley & Easy Sreets), Payson, AZ 85541. Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, head of the ordinariate, will concelebrate the Mass and receive the members of Holy Nativity ( into the Catholic Church.

Andrews is the first Anglican priest in Arizona and part of the first group of priests nationwide to be ordained for the Catholic ordinariate. Rector of Holy Nativity for the past seven years, he was ordained an Anglican priest in December 2004 and became Catholic in 2012. He received his undergraduate degree from Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. He completed Anglican seminary studies at the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, TN in 1986, and completed a Catholic formation program for the ordinariate in spring 2012. He also attended Arizona State University in Tempe (1974) and The Americas Institute of Adlerian Studies in Chicago, IL (1990).

Prior to ordination, he had a 42-year career during which he served as founder and headmaster of St. Paul’s Preparatory Academy, and founder and CEO of the San Pablo Residential Treatment Center and the Kachina Center for Alcohol and Drug Recovery, programs of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. Andrews left the Episcopal Church in 2002 for the Anglican Church of America. He and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 25 years. Special permission has been given to former Anglican priests who are married to be ordained Catholic priests for the ordinariate.

The Church of Holy Nativity has owned its property since 1974. Catholic Mass, using an approved liturgy that is based upon the traditional Anglican liturgy, will be celebrated every Sunday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The ordinariate will include 27 priests following Andrews’ ordination, more than 1,500 people and 35 communities across the United States and Canada. Its Ordinary, Msgr. Steenson, is a former Episcopal bishop who is based in Houston, TX. Msgr. Steenson noted that the ordinations this year “mark a significant moment in the history of Catholic unity.”

Two additional ordinariates are located in the United Kingdom (Our Lady of Walsingham) and Australia (Our Lady of the Southern Cross).


When I read the above, I remembered reading their original petition:

The Church of the Holy Nativity
An Anglican Catholic Parish
1414 North Easy Street – Payson, Arizona 85541
Church: 928-474-2660 – Rectory 928- 474-5209

 The Rev’d Lowell E. Andrews, Rector

St. Michael & All Angels
September 29, 2010

The Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
Post Office Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

Request for Reception into the Ordinariate
(under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution.)

Your Excellency Archbishop Wuerl,

I am writing with the full consent of the parish church of the Holy Nativity Congregation, Vestry and myself requesting to be received into full Communion through the Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church when established. This comes after a great deal of prayer and consideration with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will look favorably upon our request. We have been preparing for this to come with teaching, studying and much devotion to our Catholic faith. This action comes with the blessing of our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Daren K. Williams, ACA Diocese of the West who supports this move. We await with faith for further instructions from your office to this request.

With our deepest appreciation to Pope Benedict XVI for this offer to bring Christ’s Church into one fold, we pray that others will follow and that in time the Church will be One.

Faithfully in our Lord’s Service,

Rev. Lowell E. Andrews
Rector, the Church of the Holy Nativity


The Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson
The Most Rev. Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, Archdiocese of Santa Fe
The Most Rev. John Hepworth, Primate TAC
The Most Rev. Louis W. Falk, President, ACA House of Bishop
The Rt. Rev. Daren K. Williams, Bishop of the ACA Diocese of the West


So, it has come to pass…

Their website is here.



Tears In Tron

As a Glasgow congregation prepares to leave the Church of Scotland.

A Glasgow congregation which is leaving the Church of Scotland because of the Kirk’s stance on gay ministers held its last service in its building yesterday.

The pews of St George’s Tron in Buchanan Street were busy as 500 worshippers came to hear its minister, the Rev Dr Willie Philip, deliver the final sermon.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Philip said that church members had been frustrated by the way matter had been handled by the Kirk.

“Some of our older people have been here all their life, and some of them in the past five years have given all their life savings into refurbishing this building,” he said.

“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel angry, and it would be very, very easy to become bitter. But we don’t want to become bitter people.

“We want to focus on the future, draw a line under things and put the past behind us. It’s sad, but we didn’t want today to be a funeral service.”

The congregation announced in June that it was leaving the Church of Scotland over the issue of allowing openly gay clergy, which will be voted on by the Kirk at its General Assembly next May.

Since then, church members have been engaged in increasingly acrimonious negotiations with the Kirk over the ownership and use of the recently refurbished church building and its manse.

There has also been a dispute over money said to be owed to the Church of Scotland by the congregation.

The situation came to a head last Wednesday when Sheriff Court officers, on behalf of the Church of Scotland, entered the church during a prayer meeting and served interim interdicts on Mr Philip, preventing the congregation from removing any of the fixtures and fittings and claiming ownership to any that had already been taken.

Before beginning his sermon yesterday, the minister told members that all further services were being held at a hall in nearby Bath Street.

Acknowledging the “pain” that some members were feeling on leaving St George’s Tron, Mr Philip’s sermon focused on the difficulties faced by those who, he said, would stay true to the Bible’s teachings and “make a life investment with Jesus”.

He made reference to the Church of Scotland’s “refusal of any terms on which we might continue to use the facility”, and that they would now “bid a fond farewell to a building which has been a wonderful place of fellowship for many years for some of us”.

He added: “But the real temple of the Lord is where He himself dwells, and He dwells not among dead and empty edifice but in the midst of the living stones, His own people, whom He loves and has promised never to leave nor forsake.”

The hymns chosen for the last service also underlined the congregation’s sense of defiance at having lost the battle for ownership of the building: In the Hour of Trial, A Safe Stronghold our God is Still and The Son of God Rides Out to War.

Following the service, a photograph was taken of the congregation before Mr Philip shook hands and embraced members as they stepped out on to one of Glasgow’s busiest streets.

One man clasped the minister’s hand and shaking it firmly, said: “We’re behind you 100 per cent of the way. Nothing changes.”

Church members expressed a mixture of sadness and anger at what they feel was the injustice and heavy-handedness by the Kirk. Norrie Miller, 76, who had been attending services at the Tron for 57 years said that the decision to leave the Church of Scotland had been difficult.

“My whole family are here, daughters and grand children, so it’s been an emotional time for us,” she said.

“I’ve been a life time in the Church of Scotland, and we’re really appalled at their aggressive tactics. But we move on with great anticipation for new beginnings and a great sense of unity, young and old, and 99 per cent support.”

Terry McCutcheon, 38, who has attended the church for ten years, said: “There’s a real sadness that our church family is having to leave here today. It’s a vibrant place, there are hundreds of us. It’s not a dying church, it’s a living church.

“The saddest thing is that it’s not a Communist regime that’s shutting us down, it’s the national church. It’s a scandal”.

He said the congregation had sunk £2.6 million into the refurbishment of the building, but the Church of Scotland would not listen to its requests to be allowed to stay.

The Church of Scotland has insisted that because the congregation has chosen to leave the Kirk, it has no right to the building, manse or contents. It also says that the congregation owes the Kirk almost £1m in unpaid contributions and an outstanding loan. The Kirk has denied the accusations of heavy-handedness and aggression, pointing out that the congregation’s leaders had been recalcitrant during negotiations, only allowing Kirk officials in to carry out an inventory when threatened with legal action, and had yet to hand over the congregational records.

A Kirk spokesman said yesterday: “We are disappointed that they’ve chosen to leave the Church of Scotland before the matter was dealt with by the General Assembly. We were prepared to discuss matters with them, but it has been difficult to do this when they would not speak to us.”




Fewer Postings for Theology / Religious Studies Positions

Via the Cardinal Newman Society:

A new study from the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature found that there are fewer jobs being posted for college professors in theology and religious studies than there were prior to the economy tanking in 2008. The number of postings in 2009 was down 46 percent from the previous year across American higher education. In addition, the data show that fewer of the positions that are being offered are tenure track. In 2008, 82 percent of the positions offered were tenure track, but that number dropped to 51 percent in 2009 and 61 percent in 2010.

The study does not speculate on the reasons for the declines, but they most likely have to do with the recession that began in 2008. Other reasons could include less emphasis on religion relative to other subject areas, or lower student enrollment in religion courses.



The Decline of the Church in Britain

Whitby Abbey – “bare, ruined quires”

Writes Fr Dwight Longenecker:

Damian Thompson (who is probably one of the world’s greatest journalists) write here about the decline of Christianity in Britain. The shrinking of those who identify as Christians is combined with a dramatic surge in the Muslim population. You can’t disagree with the statistics:

Since the last census in 2001, the number of Britons identifying themselves, however loosely, as Christians is down 13 percentage points to 59 per cent.

The number of respondents who say they have no religious faith is up 10 points to 25 per cent. Meanwhile, staggeringly, the Muslim population has grown from 1.55 million to 2.7 million, an increase of 1.15 million from 2001 to 2011.

However, I must disagree with Damian’s diagnosis of the problem. Damian points the finger at the dismal leadership of both Rowan Williams in the Church of England and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. These men aren’t to blame for the lack of Christianity in Britain. The roots of the problem lie much deeper.

There are two essential reasons why Christianity is dying in the West. The first reason is philosophical and theological. Christianity has been undermined by modernism, the roots of which date back to destructive methods of Biblical critical scholarship and the humanistic rationalism and relativism that accompanies modernism. The roots of these trends within the church are found within nominalism– the philosophical foundations of  historical Protestantism. Therefore, the present problem can be clearly traced back 500 years when Christians started drifting from the supernatural and historic beliefs of the Christian faith. Read The Smoke of Satan for further analysis…

Put simply, Christianity is fading in Britain because British people don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in it because their whole culture and educational system contradicts Christian religious belief.

The second reason the British have stopped being Christian is because the British have stopped being Christian. What I mean is that, despite the theological and philosophical problems, Christian faith still flourishes when there are dynamic examples of Christians living out their faith in a radical way. When Christians live out their faith in simplicity and sacrifice, when their love and patience is exhibited in daily life, and when their spirituality empowers a genuine encounter with Christ and when they are truly transformed, they soon transform the world. What attracted converts the most in the early church was the radical and radiant love Christians lived out. In the midst of a dying culture of death and despair the Christians loved one another. They sang! They were filled with energy, hope, zeal and life.

Pope Benedict understands that the practice of Christianity will continue to shrink in the West. It will contract and seem to fade away, but that contraction will be a purification. We will have quality even if we do not have quantity. Then as the western world is swept away by the combined forces of atheism on the one hand and cruel and oppressive Islam on the other, the few radical Christians will once again shine like stars in the night. They will once again exhibit true forgiveness (which is absent in atheism and Islam) true faith (which  is absent in atheism and Islam) and true love (which is absent in atheism and Islam)

The leadership may be weak, but most leaders are simply reflections of those whom they lead. Christianity in Britain is not weak because of weak leadership. The leadership is weak because Christians in Britain are weak.

And lest my American readers are feeling smug and self righteous, the same rot is present in American Christianity, but with far more insidious and decadent manifestations.