Report from Conference on ‘The Theology of Marriage’

 to have and to hold flyer

A conference on the theology of marriage in the light of equal marriage was hosted by the LGBT Anglican Coalition in September 2014 at St John’s Waterloo.

Recognising current unease in the Church of England over same-sex marriage, the conference explored whether there is a theological basis for expanding the definition of marriage. If so, what might a theology of equal marriage include?

Resources from the conference can be downloaded here. Resources will be added as soon as they become available.

Professor Adrian Thatcher, University of Exeter:
Adrian’s website has material from the conference – click here
In favour of equal marriage – PDF

Conference Address (follow instructions to download and play in a media player)

Rev Dr Charlotte Methuen, University of Glasgow – Conference Address
(Follow instructions to download and play in a media player)

Marriage in history and tradition PDF

Tina Beardsley & Susan Gilchrist
Workshop: Love’s constancy & legal niceties: transgendered perspectives on marriage PDF

Simon J. Taylor
An invitation to the feast:A positive Biblical approach to equal marriage PDF

Colin Coward

Liturgies for same sex blessings and marriages PDF

Dan Barnes Davies

Digest of Thatcher and Methuen talks PDF


For anyone critical of the movement towards acceptance – or not – by the Church of Same-Sex Marriage, these items, from the web-site of the LGBT Anglican Coalition in the U.K., are well-worth the time and effort taken to examine them in detail.

Especially rewarding are the talks given at various times by Professor Adrian Thatcher, University of Exeter, whose theological interest in the history and aetiology of marriage has produced some outstanding results – in terms of the different cultural settings, circumstances, and understandings within which the institution of marriage has been undertaken.   

When critics of Same-Sex Marriage say that there has been little or no theological examination of the grounds for such a measure, these studies may well prove otherwise.

I suggest that these same critics might learn something useful from these articles on the LGBT web-site – whether or not they are prepared to think outside of the institutional square on such important issues.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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House of Commons agrees to Women as Bishops in the C. of E.

Commons debate women in the episcopate

The final parliamentary consideration of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure took place on the late afternoon of 20 October, when the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, (Banbury, Con), proposed the motion

“That the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (HC 621), passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which it was laid before Parliament,”[HC Hansard, 20 Oct 2014 Vol 586(45) Col 706].

The motion was passed after a short debate, below, and following Royal Assent, the other remaining legal components will be considered at General Synod 17-18 November

Earlier parliamentary consideration

On 22 July, the Ecclesiastical Committee unanimously supported Sir Tony’s motion that the Measure “be regarded as expedient”, and on 13 October the House of Lords agreed the Motion to Direct, moved by the Archbishop of Canterbury:

“That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent”.

The proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Committee, including the oral and written evidence presented are contained in its 233rd Report.  The House of Lords debate is reported inHansard, [14 Oct 2014, Vol 756(38) Col 165] and a summary of the debate is availablehere.

House of Commons Debate

The tenor of the Commons debate was captured by Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) who said:

“Anybody looking in on this debate from outside would be rather surprised at how low key and sober it has been, given the momentousness of what we are debating and hopefully approving,” [Col 175]

There were few new insights into the implementation of the Measure: in addition to the many well-deserved acknowledgements to the contributions of Justin Welby and Sir Tony Baldry, there were a couple of “please Sir, can we have a woman bishop” bids, [Hull and Gloucester], whilst other Members of the House were keen to air their knowledge of church history and the classics.

The main scrutiny of the Measure was provided by Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab). After noting:

“Clause 2 makes it clear that bishops are not public office holders under the Equality Act 2010. It is a necessary provision, enabling the Church to provide for those who, as a result of theological conviction, do not wish to receive episcopal oversight from a woman, “[Col 710],

she asked:

“First, will parochial church councils be obliged to inform all members of the Church who are on the electoral roll in a parish that discussions are about to take place regarding resolutions to restrict the ministry of women, so that hole-in-corner decisions are not made?

Secondly, can a parish request oversight from a non-discriminating bishop? The rules allow parishes to request a discriminating bishop. Can they also request a non-discriminating bishop, and can such parishes apply to the new independent reviewer?

Thirdly, will the new conservative evangelical headship bishop minister beyond the parishes that specifically request his ministry?

Fourthly, will the Second Church Estates Commissioner confirm that clause 2 will not validate any further discriminatory practices?

There is a fifth, and very important, question, which relates not to the Church but to the Government. . . . As the Second Church Estates Commissioner said, bishops are currently appointed to the other place on the basis of seniority. I understand that to change that we shall need primary legislation, because otherwise the advent of women in the other place will come about at some far distant time, and none of us wants that. . .  The Clerks inform me that only eight Bills are before Parliament at the moment, whereas in a year we normally have 22 Bills going through the House, so there seems to be lots of time available,” [Col 711]

On this last important question, Sir Tony responded:

“ . . . The situation is more that the Government are in the process of finding this time. . . . This is much more about when, not if, the Government find time within the legislation programme. That is very much the impression I have got from my discussions with the Leader of the House and his equivalent in the other place”, [Col 711],

and in relation to the nature of this legislation:

“The Bill to enable women to become Lords Spiritual will be introduced in due course and will be very short. We could probably have taken it through in the time that was available this evening. It will be a two-clause Bill. I will continue to do my best, through the usual channels, to ensure that we find time for it”, [Col 723].

Following up his assertion that Clause 2 was “unfortunate that, at a time when we are advancing equality, we have to amend the Equality Act to carve out a chunk of the Church of England”, Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab) pointedly noted:

“the battle for decency and the rights of all within the Church is a seamless garment—it does not distinguish between the rights of gay men and those of women in the Church,” [Col 721].

Concluding the debate, Sir Tony addressed the questions that had been raised by Helen Goodman and others:

“A certain amount has been said about clause 2. . . . This evening, the House is considering a Measure to enable there to be women bishops. Within the context of providing for women bishops, the purpose of clause 2 is to enable the House of Bishops’ declaration and the five guiding principles to work without the risk of litigation. There will be occasions when bishops—men as well as women—have to ask another bishop to exercise some of their functions in relation to a particular parish. However, if episcopal posts were public offices, as defined in the Equality Act 2010, appointing to them in the expectation that the person concerned would observe that self-denying ordinance would constitute discrimination in the terms in which the appointment was offered. We do not believe that episcopal offices currently fall within the definition of a public office. Interestingly, it came out in the House of Lords debate last week that membership of the House of Lords does not fall within the definition of a public office in the Equality Act either. However, it is unclear what view the courts would take if the matter were ever tested. Clause 2 therefore puts the matter beyond doubt.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) asked whether parochial church councils will be required to consult their congregations and wider parishes before they pass a resolution. The answer is absolutely yes. The arrangements by which PCCs will pass resolutions is set out in paragraphs 16 to 22 of the House of Bishops’ declaration. The importance of the decision is respected by the fact that at least four weeks’ notice has to be given of the time and place of the meeting, and of the motion to be considered. In addition, the motion will pass only if it achieves an absolute majority of all members of the PCC or a majority of those present at a meeting of at least two thirds of the members of the PCC who are entitled to attend.

On non-discriminating bishops, we must all recognise that in future every diocese will have a bishop who ordains women and who will be a champion for their ministry. There should be no part of England where it is not possible to have a bishop who ordains women. A headship evangelical bishop will be a bishop in the Church of England and a bishop in the Church of God, not just a bishop in a particular constituency, so he will be a bishop for the whole diocese, [Col 722, 723]

Associated with this last point, Sir Peter Bottomley said

“One question that has not been raised this evening, but was raised in the House of Lords, where the Archbishop of Canterbury’s answer was delphic, is whether the archbishops will consecrate other bishops when they are physically able to do so or whether they will opt out”,

to which Sir Tony Baldry countered:

“The Archbishop’s answer was very clear; it was not delphic at all. I commend Lords Hansard to colleagues. He set out the circumstances very clearly. He made it clear that, in the normal course of events, archbishops will consecrate all bishops, but that there will be circumstances when an archbishop is ill or overseas. His point was that there is no great issue about that, and none intended,” [Col 724].

Hansard records the archbishop as saying:

“The present archbishops—I have discussed this at great length with the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York—cannot bind their successors, and we are very careful about that, but the five guiding principles of the House of Bishops provide a framework which should make it possible for arrangements to develop which are generally accepted and part of the way in which the Church of England continues to manage diversity, “

[HL Hansard, 14 Oct 2014, Vol 756(38) Col 186].

Next Steps

The focus now shifts to the November General Synod, where the remaining legislative provisions will be addressed, viz.

  • Amending Canon No 33: Of the consecration of bishops &c: Following the grand of Royal Assent and Licence, the Amending Canon will be promulged at General Synod in London, 17 to 19 November
  • Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993: No further approval is required and it will be brought into effect by the Archbishops in their respective Provinces once the Amending Canon 33 is promulged and executed.
  • House of Bishops’ Declaration: No further approval required and no subsequent changes will be made.
  • Regulations pursuant to House of Bishops’ Declaration: The House of Bishops will make Regulations prescribing a procedure for the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements, as included in the Declaration. General Synod is required to approve Regulations by two thirds majority at its November meeting, after the Amending Canon 33 is promulged.

The promised legislation to fast-track of women bishops to the House of Lords cannot be introduced until most of the above provisions have been approved. The issues that this raises will be considered in another post.


Not surprisingly, the House of Commons, in common with the House of Lords, has agreed to the Measure passed by the Church of England General Synod, with the intention of ordaining Women as Bishops in the Church of England. All that now is required is the official sanction of H.M. the Queen.

However, the suggestion made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the legislation be ‘fast-tracked’ to enable Women Bishops into the House of Lords, will have to wait until the amending Canon 33 has been promulged at the next Meeting of the General Synod in November, 2014. 

One interesting point of debate what when Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab). said: “Clause 2 makes it clear that bishops are not public office holders under the Equality Act 2010. It is a necessary provision, enabling the Church to provide for those who, as a result of theological conviction, do not wish to receive episcopal oversight from a woman“ [Col 710],

she then asked:

“First, will parochial church councils be obliged to inform all members of the Church who are on the electoral roll in a parish that discussions are about to take place regarding resolutions to restrict the ministry of women, so that hole-in-corner decisions are not made?

“Secondly, can a parish request oversight from a non-discriminating bishop? The rules allow parishes to request a discriminating bishop. Can they also request a non-discriminating bishop, and can such parishes apply to the new independent reviewer?

“Thirdly, will the new conservative evangelical headship bishop minister beyond the parishes that specifically request his ministry?

“Fourthly, will the Second Church Estates Commissioner confirm that clause 2 will not validate any further discriminatory practices?

“There is a fifth, and very important, question, which relates not to the Church but to the Government. . . . As the Second Church Estates Commissioner said, bishops are currently appointed to the other place (House of Lords) on the basis of seniority. I understand that to change that we shall need primary legislation, because otherwise the advent of women in the other place will come about at some far distant time, and none of us wants that. . .  The Clerks inform me that only eight Bills are before Parliament at the moment, whereas in a year we normally have 22 Bills going through the House, so there seems to be lots of time available,” [Col 711]

“On this last important question, Sir Tony responded: “ . . . The situation is more that the Government are in the process of finding this time. . . . This is much more about when, not if, the Government find time within the legislation programme. That is very much the impression I have got from my discussions with the Leader of the House and his equivalent in the other place”, [Col 711]….”

From these proceedings, it may be assumed that, after the Measure is eventually passed by the November General Synod, dissenting parishes insisting on episcopal ministry from someone other than their (female) bishop; will need to canvas the opinion of everyone on the parish roll before making application to their diocesan bishop for such ministry. This sounds just and fair in circumstances that could have caused discontent in such parishes. 

On the matter of Women Bishops in the House of Lords; Sir Tony Baldry, the Church Commissioner in the House of Commons, is obviously keen to encourage Parliament to expedite the introduction of Women Bishops into the House of Lords – which, also, seems just and fair, considering how long it has taken the Church of England to get to this point in its recognition of the ministry of women in the Church.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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This Anglican Bishop, Paul Butler’s observation of the conduct of Pope Francis is well noted. This papacy is of a very different order from the previous 2 holders of the post. He is clearly in tune with the thoughts and aspirations of the Faithful Laity, and will bide his time for the necessary reform. Prayers for his continuing leadership wise leadership.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Originally posted on Through the eyes of a Bishop...:

So at the end it all came down to 62 minutes of secret electronic voting on the text of the Relatio minute for each paragraph. All the talking and debating done; simply Synod Fathers ‘is this paragraph Placet or Non Placet?’. Two thirds needed for it to be Placet. It was a strange experience sat there watching all these men quietly and studiously voting. No reaction at any point, even when a paragraph did not receive the necessary two thirds (3 paragraphs did not do so). The previous day’s cheerful lively discussion on the Message, and the morning’s equally cheery simple majority vote on it seemed a long time past. When all was done there was a stillness; work done. Now for a year of further exploration and a return to the subject at next year’s Ordinary Synod. Then the make up will be different as larger churches will…

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Catholic Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays

AP – Huffington Post

Posted: 10/18/2014 2:04 pm EDT Updated: 10/18/2014 3:59 pm EDT
 VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

The bishops failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals that stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront. It said “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between man and woman. The paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops – whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion – also failed to pass.

The outcome showed a deeply divided church on some of the most pressing issues facing Catholic families.

It appeared that the 118-62 vote on the gay section might have been a protest vote by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said it was “very disappointing” that the final report had backtracked from the welcoming words contained in the draft. Nevertheless, it said the synod’s process “and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year’s synod, where the makeup of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.”

The draft had been written by a Francis appointee, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope on ministering to people in “irregular” unions. The draft was supposed to have been a synopsis of the bishops’ interventions, but many conservatives complained that it reflected a minority and overly progressive view.

Francis insisted in the name of transparency that the full document – including the paragraphs that failed to pass – be published along with the voting tally. The document will serve as the basis for future debate leading up to another meeting of bishops next October that will produce a final report to be sent to Francis.

“Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these … animated discussions … or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace,” Francis told the synod hall after the vote.

Conservatives had harshly criticized the draft and proposed extensive revisions to restate church doctrine, which holds that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered,” but that gays themselves are to be respected, and that marriage is only between a man and woman.

“We could see that there were different viewpoints,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracis of India, when asked about the most contentious sections of the report on homosexuals and divorced and remarried Catholics.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leader of the progressive camp, said he was “realistic” about the outcome.

In an unexpected gesture after the voting, Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the synod.

“Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,” he said. “Grazie tante.” Conservative bishops had harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft, even though the media reports merely reflected the document’s content.

Francis’ gesture, and his words inside the synod hall chastising bishops who were overly wed to doctrine and were guided by “hostile rigidity,” as well as those bishops who showed a “destructive goody-goodiness,” indicated that he was well aware of the divisions the debate had sparked. His speech received a four-minute standing ovation, participants said.

Over the past week, the bishops split themselves up into working groups to draft amendments to the text. They were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and “irregular” unions.

The bishops signaled a similar tone in a separate message directed at Christian families released Saturday. There was no mention whatsoever of families with gay children, much less gay parents, and it spoke of the “complex and problematic” issues that arise when marriages fail and new relationships begin.

“Christ wanted his church to be a house with the door always open to welcome everyone, without excluding anyone,” the message read. (Oddly, the English translation was less welcoming than the official Italian, ending the sentence after `everyone.’)

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa, who helped draft the revised final report, told Vatican Radio the final document showed a “common vision” that was lacking in the draft.

He said the key areas for concern were “presenting homosexual unions as if they were a very positive thing” and the suggestion that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to receive Communion without an annulment.

He complained that the draft was presented as the opinion of the whole synod, when it was “one or two people.”

“And that made people very angry,” he said.

(Annalisa Camilli contributed to this report.)


This report from Huffington Post reflects the disappointment felt by many Roman Catholics at the interim outcome of the just-completed meeting of Cardinals and Bishops of the Church in Rome. After a week of discussions on issues of gender and sexuality, and the possibility of accepting divorcees and homosexuals into full communion in the Church, the initiatives brought to the discussion by the Supreme Pontiff have been rejected by the Church’s more conservative hierarchy.

Despite the efforts of Pope Francis and his supporters, who want to open up the Church to a broader understanding of the issues faced by people in relationships different from those traditionally accepted by the Church as ‘rightly-ordered’ in terms of morality; the weekend report produced a definite rejection of any change in attitude on such issues.

However, all is not yet lost, simply because the definitive statement of the Church will not be made on such matters until after the official Synod of Bishops which will take place in a year’s time. This will give time for bishops and cardinals to make further inquiries into the pastoral concerns involved, before discussion is closed at the time of the Synod.

Despite open opposition to the will of the Pope for further reforms to be made, Pope Francis is still the Pope, and may yet bring about the changes that he has in mind for the Church by his obvious concern for the future viability of the institution; which he, and his supporters, believe may be at risk if the Church maintains its traditional stance towards people on the margins of society. When one considers Pope Francis’ instinctual efforts to overcome the traditional Vatican stranglehold over the effects of Vatican II’s reforms; it must be assumed that the Holy Spirit – at whose call he was made Pope – will guide his leadership of the Church into an era of new enlightenment  in a time of deep human need for justice and integrity in all spheres of life in the Church.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Extract from a Report on Roman Synod by ‘Religion Despatches’

The big story this week is the ideological warfare and spin-control struggles that broke into the open after the public reading on Monday of a working document called a relatio that was intended to summarize discussions to date at the Catholic bishops’ synod on the family.

The document contained language that felt to many like a major departure – what some called a“stunning shift” in the church’s approach to gay people. That draft and the media response to it provoked a furious backlash from conservatives, who are hoping for a major re-write before the final document is presented to bishops on Saturday.

Among the rhetoric drawing attention was the statement that gays and lesbians have “gifts to offer” the church.

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

The report also said that some gay couples give each other “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners.” To many journalists and LGBT and liberal Catholics, this kind of language praising gay couples was nothing short of astonishing. One Vatican journalist called it a “pastoral earthquake.”

For example, Francis DeBernarndo of New Ways Ministry, told the Washignton Blade, “It’s really a total reversal of the attitude and approach the church leaders have taken regarding lesbian and gay people for decades now.” Tom Roberts wrote in the New Republic, “Pope Francis Just Ripped the Weapons From the Culture Warriors’ Hands.”

At the Guardian, Lizzy Davies wrote

Is this the modern family according to Francis? From gay relationships to extramarital sex, from divorce and remarriage to civil unions, the Roman Catholic church has signalled it is ready to adopt what some see as a markedly more conciliatory tone towards those in “irregular” familial setups.

The New York Times’ Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein similarly called it “the first signal that the institutional church may follow the direction Francis has set in the first 18 months of his papacy, away from condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness and mercy.”

The conservative backlash was immediate and intense, if sometimes contradictory. Some conservatives lamented what they saw as a betrayal to the church’s teachings, while others, like George Weigel at National Review, downplayed the relatio’s significance and blamed the media for blowing things out of proportion.

Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press described the backlash this way:

A fight for the soul of the Catholic Church has broken out, and the first battlefield is a document on family values that pits increasingly alarmed conservatives against more progressive bishops emboldened by Pope Francis’ vision of a church that is more merciful than moralistic.

Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage was appalled about the Vatican press office’s handling of the document and the conversations it spawned.  He argued that conservatives must overcome the “falsehood” that “only the revisionists speak from a place of mercy,” adding, “True mercy is always rooted in the truth. And authentic mercy can never contradict the truth.

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier called the situation “virtually irredeemable.” Conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, said the report” lacks a solid foundation in the sacred Scriptures.” Burke went so far as to demand that Pope Francis speak out and clarify that church doctrine on marriage and homosexuality is not being changed. John Thavis provides a summary of conservative gripes.

It’s not only conservative Catholics that have been weighing in on the synod: Protestants like Rick Warren joined conservative Catholics in a pre-synod letter calling for the bishops to be outspoken advocates for “timeless truths” about marriage. American anti-gay activist Bradlee Dean, who announced, “I’m no friend of the Roman Catholic Church, their councils or their Popes,” slammed “the liberal leaning Pope Francis and his Roman ecclesiastical hierarchy” for focusing on positive contributions “sodomites” can make in the church.” And Brooklyn-based Orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Levin, a spokesman for the Rabbinical Council of America, appealed, according to LifeSite News, “to conservative cardinals to resist all efforts to tolerate or accept homosexuality” at the synod.

According to Levin, who said he was not speaking for the Rabbinical Alliance, “The Catholic Church is a real bulwark at the United Nations and internationally, the premier defender of family and pro-life values.” Orthodox Jews share those values and rely on the Catholic Church as an ally. Moreover, “As things go in the Christian community, they soon go in the Jewish community,” he said.

“Why discuss homosexual unions at all?” Levin asks. “What’s to discuss?” The rabbi said Scripture is clear on the immorality of homosexuality and “true compassion” demands that we call our neighbour out of their sin.

Levin worried that some Catholic leaders are falling prey to a “militant methodology” organized by radical homosexuals that has already forced public schools, governments, and professional bodies such as the American Psychological Association to accept homosexuality as normal.

Levin appealed to the retired pope Benedict to “step forward and preach the unadulterated truth.”

The truth, he added, is that homosexuality is wrong, and taking a so-called non-judgmental approach to it can only encourage its growth. “There is something worse than murdering a child,” Levin said. “Because, as the Talmud says, when you kill someone physically you don’t touch them spiritually. But when you lead a person into heinous sin, you kill them spiritually in this world and the next world.”

All the hoopla led to a bit of bactracking, at least rhetorically, but liberals and conservatives jockeyed over the extent to which the Vatican’s statements clarifying the relatio’s role in the process marked any walk-back from its ideas.

In response to such reactions, the Vatican backtracked a bit Tuesday. In a statement, it said the report on gays and lesbians was a “working document,” not the final word from Rome.

The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create “the impression of a positive evaluation” of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together….

It is not clear where the chips will fall. On Thursday, Winfield of Associated Press reported, “The Vatican is watering down a ground-breaking overture to gays — but only if they speak English.”

After a draft report by bishops debating family issues came under criticism from conservative English-speaking bishops, the Vatican released a new translation on Thursday.

A section initially titled “Welcoming homosexuals” is now “Providing for homosexual persons,” and the tone of the text is significantly colder and less welcoming.

The initial English version — released Monday along with the original — accurately reflected the Italian version in both letter and spirit, and contained a remarkable tone of acceptance extended to gays. Conservatives were outraged.

The first version asked if the church was capable of “welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” The new version asks if the church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing … them … a place of fellowship in our communities.”

The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partners.” The new one says gay unions often constitute “valuable support in the life of these persons.”

In nearly all cases, the first version followed the official Italian version in verbatim; the second provides a different tone altogether.

In contrast, the Catholic News Agency argued that the original English translation was inaccurate.

While the working report is not a final document, there is plenty of intrigue over who will be responsible for drafting that final document. While bishops elected conservatives to committees that will consider portions of the final report, Francis himself appointed a group of his own choosing to oversee the drafting. According to the Associated Press:

The bishops themselves elected a host of known conservatives to lead the working groups hammering out details of the final report. In an apparent bid to counter their influence, Francis appointed six progressives to draft the final document.

America magazine’s Gerard O’Connell called that move by Francis “unprecedented and highly significant.” The final report that emerges “will provide the basis for discussion in Bishops’ Conferences and Churches around the world between now and the synod of October 2015.”

It will serve as the equivalent of a Working Document in preparation for the next synod which is expected to come up with important proposals regarding the pastoral approach to the family in the 21st century, including those regarding how the Church will respond to the questions of cohabitation, the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics, other irregular situations, same-sex unions and much else.…

But on Thursday, James Martin reported that “Pope Francis added two new members to the drafting commission, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban and Archbishop Denis Hart of Oceania, apparently to further include different viewpoints (particularly from African bishops). Cardinal Napier had been on record as describing the first ‘relatio’ as nearly ‘irredeemable.’”

O’Connell wrote that the openness of the conversation at the synod, which has exposed differences of opinion and priority, is itself a direct consequence of the more open approach championed by Francis:

Every participant that I have spoken to in private, as well as those who met the press, gave fulsome credit to Pope Francis for creating a climate of freedom in which everyone has felt totally free to say what they really think on a given topic.  “People are very relaxed, and even make jokes”, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin commented.  He said the Pope has contributed greatly to this climate not only by advocating that they speak freely and boldly on the first day but also by arriving early each day, greeting participants when they arrive, and mingling with people at the coffee breaks.

It is well known that in past synods a discreet but effective censorship was exercised by Vatican officials, but what was even more serious and damaging to the realization of an open and honest debate was the “self-censorship” exercised by the bishops themselves at these gatherings. Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo, President of the Argentine Bishops Conference, stated this frankly in an interview on October 9 when, referring to past synods, he said, “The worst censorship is self-censorship”.

A second very important factor that differentiates this synod from previous ones is that “the inductive” rather than “the deductive” method has prevailed. Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, President of the Canadian Bishops Conference, highlighted this particular aspect at a Vatican briefing on October 9.

“What’s going on in the Synod is we’re seeing a more inductive way of reflecting, starting with the real situations of people… and finding that the lived experience of people is also a theological source, a place of theological reflection”, he stated.

“The bishops are speaking as pastors”, many participants confirmed. They are speaking from personal experience and honest conviction on a wide variety of issues.  At times they are doing so with great passion, also from their experiences of the happy or broken marriages of their own parents.

On the other hand, there’s plenty in the document that affirms church teachings and stakes out more conservative politicians. As the New York Times notes,

The document also criticizes pressure by the United Nations and some Western nations to compel countries in Africa and elsewhere to rescind laws that restrict the rights of gay people, in exchange for financial aid. It says it is unacceptable “that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.”

“Gender ideology” is a construct being pushed by Catholic leaders in Poland and across Europe as a shorthand for everything conservatives don’t like about nontraditional views on family, women, and LGBT people.

It is not clear how much change will actually result from this synod, or next year’s. Patricia Miller has noted in RD, the synod’s signs of greater welcome to LGBT people has not extended so much to women. At National Catholic Reporter, Heidi Schlumpf has a hard time getting excited about the bishops’ “gradualism” on family issues. Father James Martin, S.J., suggests, “Maybe this is not so much Vatican III as the continuation of Vatican II.”


Today is the day (Saturday, 19 October, 2014) when the report of the Meeting of Bishops and others in Rome – on matters of gender and sexuality – will be presented to the Council of Catholic Bishops for further consideration.

Entitled “In the 10/17/2014 edition: Synod ‘Fight for Soul’ of Catholic Church, Flap On English Translation of Key Report; Anti-Gay Law Advances in Kyrgyzstan; Global LGBT Recap”; this extract of the report, published by ‘Religion Despatches’, provides evidence of the fight for supremacy between traditionalists and the modernists – led, seemingly, by no less than Pope Francis himself – that threatens the uneasy truce of the Roman Catholic Church on matters of Church Discipline; between: those who want to maintain the status quo situation of a stand-off against reform of the treatment of homosexuality and divorce and: the advocates of reform on these issues. in order to bring Catholic Church polity into a 21st century understanding of the pastoral concerns presented.

It will be most interesting to see what the actual report presented to the Synod of Bishops will contain in the way of suggested reforms that could have such a wide-scale effect on the lives of divorcees and homosexuals who wish to be accepted as viable members of the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the outcome of this present convocation of bishops; the facts of suggested liberalization would seem to be consonant with what was shaping up for the reforms suggested by Vatican II – before the Curia stepped back from its full implementation. Could Vatican III be far behind?

Interestingly, the fears being enunciated by conservative opposition to any reforms on these issues in the Catholic Church seem not too different from those being voiced in certain provinces of the Anglican Communion – re the acceptance of women bishops and gays in the Church. Time alone will tell how long conservative forces can keep the Church in thrall to out-dated pastoral polity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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House of Lords says ‘YES’ to Women Bishops in the C. of E.

Women bishops: Archbishop’s speech in House of Lords debate

Tuesday 14th October 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury’s opening speech in this afternoon’s House of Lords debate on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

Peers later accepted the General Synod proposal, passed by the Synod in July, without a vote.

Archbishop Justin’s speech: 

My Lords, it is now 95 years since Parliament conferred on the Church of England the power to initiate legislation, which, following Parliamentary Approval and the Royal Assent, becomes part of the law of England.

Most of the Measures passed by the Church Assembly and, since 1970, by the General Synod have been necessary but modest revisions of the Church’s rule book and the law of England. Texts such as the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 2014 or the Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure 2011 were not framed with excitement in mind. And even they sound positively racy compared with that early piece of Church Assembly legislation considered by this House in the days of Archbishop Davidson – the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Measure 1923.

Just occasionally, though, the Church brings to Parliament legislation which is of more significance and effect. The Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974 was one such, and so was the legislation passed by Synod in 1992 to enable women to be ordained priests in the Church of England.

This afternoon the House has before it another piece of legislation which is designed to achieve a change of historical significance, at least in Church terms. Its effect is to enable the Church of England, for the first time, to open all three orders of ministry – deacons, priests and bishops – without reference to gender.

The process that was begun by the legislation to enable women to become deacons in the 1980s and then priests in the 1990s will at last be completed by legislation which enables women to become bishops – and indeed archbishops, since they are not a separate order of ministry – in the Church of England.

Over the past 20 years many women have given outstanding leadership as vicars, archdeacons and cathedral deans. Now for the first time, every post will be open to them.

For many people within the Church of England and others it has been a process full of frustration when looked at from the outside; and it has been somewhat baffling, particularly in recent years, that something which seems so simple and obvious should have become such a considerable problem. After all, surely the big step was taken in the early 1990s with the admission of women to the priesthood – and that indeed is true theologically and psychologically. What matters to most people in the church is who the vicar is.

Nevertheless, the Church of England at the Reformation did not opt for a system of congregational or Presbyterian governance. We remained, like the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions, an episcopal church where bishops are the leaders in mission and ministry; give authority to others as ordained ministers of the Gospel through the laying on of hands; and above all are the focus of unity – and that is very relevant to the structure of this Measure.

It is because bishops are at the heart of Anglican polity – indeed are included in the Lambeth-Chicago Quadrilateral as one of the four defining features of Anglicanism – that the process of securing agreement to this legislation has been so long and difficult.

The heart of the dilemma has been how to try and maintain the theological breadth and diversity of the Church of England while securing a solution which avoids any appearance of equivocation over the Church of England’s commitment to equality between men and women.

In November 2012 the Measure failed, and it looked as if the circle could not be squared. By a narrow margin in the House of Laity of six votes, the General Synod rejected legislation at the Final Approval stage – despite the fact it had received approval from all but two of the dioceses in the country.

In the course of last year, however – perhaps chastened by that sobering experience and the adverse reaction across the country – people from a wide range of convictions in the Church of England came together and put together the Measure we have now before us.

The result is a very simple piece of legislation. It’s buttressed both by a declaration from the House of Bishops setting out five key principles, and by regulations, made under Canon, to establish a grievance procedure with an ombudsperson which will be overseen by independent review.

For traditional catholics and headship evangelicals it remains a matter of regret that the Church of England has taken the decision that it has. But they accept that the arrival of women bishops is the clear view of the overwhelming majority within the Church of England, and in general they have signalled their wish to remain as loyal members of this Church for as long as it has a respected place for them. Similarly, for many of the advocates for gender equality it remains a matter of regret that the Church of England has made special arrangements for those who, on the grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women priests or bishops.

Nevertheless the overwhelming majorities at Final Approval in the three Houses of Synod – 95% in the House of Bishops, 87% in the House of Clergy and 77% in the House of Laity – (majorities in this House would be considered moderately comfortable) – signal the commitment that there is to delivering this historic change while, so far as possible, maintaining the traditional diversity of the Church.

It is not simply for reasons of history or nostalgia that we wish to remain a broad Church. Reconciliation is at the heart of the Christian message; in fact, it has been said that it is the Christian message. And it is a message – as the discussions in this House over the last few weeks have shown – that the world desperately needs. The example of being able to live with difference, and yet to live in unity, is called for more and more. We may regard other members of the Christian family as irritating, embarrassing or plain wrong. But they are part of the family, and we don’t choose our families.

My Lords, there is much else I could say but let me in conclusion simply add two other points. First, I want to note that Clause 2 constitutes what in our view, and that of Government lawyers, is a clarificatory provision concerning the definition of “public office” in the Equality Act.

This is a complex area which we covered in some detail in our memorandum to the Ecclesiastical Committee, which is annexed to the Committee’s Report.

Under the House of Bishop’s Declaration there will be some occasions when some bishops – men as well as women – will need to ask another bishop to exercise some of their functions in relation to a particular parish. If episcopal posts were public offices, as defined in the Equality Act, appointing to them in the expectation that the person concerned would observe that self-denying ordinance would constitute discrimination in the terms in which the appointment was offered.

We don’t in fact believe that episcopal offices fall within the  definition of “public office” in the Equality Act – life peers don’t either for that matter – but it is unclear what view the courts would take if the matter were ever tested, so Clause 2 puts the matter beyond any doubt.

Secondly, one of the many happy consequences of this measure will be that the Lords Spiritual benches will in due course include women as well as men. But that could take some time if the normal seniority system were simply left to take its course.

The Synod did not have the power to include in the Measure amendments to the law on the issuing of parliamentary writs. But there have been consultations with all the main parties on the possibility of a very short and simple Government Bill which could be taken through this session to accelerate the arrival of the first women Lords Spiritual. There has been solid cross-party support and I very much hope that the Government will be able to find a suitable legislative slot very shortly.

My Lords, the measure before you today is very, very long overdue. The arrival of women diocesan bishops in this House is equally long overdue. I commend to you the motion standing in my name.


After a wonderfully relaxing holiday with my wife, Diana – beginning with a Eucharistic Farewell to the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, presided over by Bishop Marc Andrus, and culminating in a 24-night cruise through the Pacific Ocean to Sydney, where we attended a beautiful Sung Mass at the Anglo-Catholic Church of Christchurch-Saint Laurence, before returning home to Christchurch, New Zealand – I am back in harness to bring to you what I consider to be highlights from the activities of Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

What caught my attention on our return – apart from an encouraging report from the current Roman Catholic Synod of its willingness to consider the possibility of accepting Same-Sex relationships in that Church, and to reconsider the situation of its treatment of divorcees – was this item of news from the Church of England; that the House of Lords has approved of the  General Synod’s intention to ordain women as bishops in the C. of E.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Revd. Justin Welby gave a convincing rationale for the Church’s intention on this important matter, which will now proceed to debate in the House of Commons on Monday, 20 October 2014. That there have been notes of caution expressed by some Church members at the suggestion by the ABC that parliament could possibly expedite the process by which women bishop could be ordained (after the expected affirmation of the process by the Crown) might have been expected. However, the fact that the measure passed in the House of lords without the need for a vote, would seem to indicate that the time is ripe for the inclusion of women bishops as co-partners with male bishops in the Church of England. Deo gratias!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Church Music – post-Vatican 2

Church Music after Vatican II

  • Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review by Daniel H. Martins

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of what is arguably the single most influential event in Christian history since the Reformation: the Second Vatican Council. Far from being absorbed into some larger whole, Vatican II continues to cast a lengthening shadow, offering itself as the most plausible lens through which to interpret thought, practice, and conflict — not only within the Roman Catholic Church, but across the Christian spectrum. Unpacking and exegeting the council documents is virtually a cottage industry that shows no sign of ebbing or being displaced by something else. Sacred Treasure participates in that industry, staking out partisan positions on contested issues surrounding one of Vatican II’s most important documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), the constitution on the sacred liturgy.

Sacred Treasure
Understanding Catholic
Liturgical Music

By Joseph P. Swain.
Liturgical Press. Pp. 400. $59.95

Anglicans live inescapably in the wake of Vatican II, particularly SC. The renewal of worship that crystallized for the Episcopal Church in the mid-1970s, culminating in the prayer book of 1979, grew out of the same flowering of liturgical scholarship that informed the council fathers. It gave birth to a heady era of ecumenical optimism, with extensive cross-communion cooperation in developing vernacular liturgical texts (for English speakers, the International Consultation on English Texts, which yielded much of the language that is now familiar to Episcopalians). The impetus toward a versus populum style of liturgical celebration had gained small traction in Anglican circles when the perception that it was mandated by Vatican II invested it with the hallmarks of normative practice. The issues of liturgical music that concern Joseph P. Swain, while not identical to those faced by Anglican musicians, clergy, and congregations, are familiar enough to make his observations more than just a little interesting to those whose liturgical inheritance is that of the English church.

Swain is a scholar, musicologist, orchestral violinist, and associate professor of music at Colgate University. He brings the tools of his discipline to bear on liturgical music in ways that one would readily expect, shining a light on the inextricable connection between the history of Western music and the history of Western liturgy; one cannot study the former without studying the latter. As a non-Catholic who was an undergraduate music major at an evangelical liberal arts college, I can heartily attest to the truth of Swain’s rueful comment that “the average non-Catholic American music major will know traditions of Catholic music better than most priests” (p. 321).

Swain takes on a formidable task when he endeavors to use technical analysis of musical aesthetics to support his critical judgment on parochial practices. He articulates positions that are neither timid nor free of controversy. Taken on their face, his opinions might be peremptorily dismissed as those of a patrician snob who has season tickets to the local philharmonic and no desire to visit Branson or Opryland — that is, a matter of taste and therefore exempt from critique. But any who would push back on him must engage his analytical scaffolding, which he erects carefully and thoroughly. It is problematic to write about music theory for an audience mostly not schooled in that subject. The author acknowledges this difficulty at the outset, and proclaims an intention to discuss music theory in as non-technical a way as possible, such that any attentive reader should be able to follow along.

Because the subject matter is interdisciplinary — encompassing both liturgy and music — and because both of those fields are multidimensional, with connecting forays into aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, semiotics, language theory, sociology, and organizational behavior, Swain must step outside the confined areas of his acknowledged expertise. That he does so boldly is probably to his credit.

The author’s essential governing rubric comes right from the text of SC (Sec. 112): “Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy, the more closely connected it is with the liturgical action, whether making prayer more pleasing, promoting unity of minds, or conferring greater solemnity on the sacred rites.”

In other words, the liturgy is not a sort of flatbed truck on which anyone’s music of choice rides as a passenger. Rather, it is music’s function to reveal ever more clearly the shape, character, and spirit of the liturgy. Following closely on this prime directive is a cognate one: Liturgical music must foster transcendence. “Worshipers do not come to Mass to find the everyday world, but to have some experience, however fleeting and subliminal, of the next world, of the divine” (p. 71).

Building out from those foundational pillars, Swain invokes the linguistic category of semantics, and applies it to the “language” of music. A spoken or written word both denotes and connotes, and thereby acquires not simply one static meaning, but a range of meaning that depends on a context to be interpreted appropriately. A native speaker can navigate this semantic range effortlessly, while one learning a language later in life is often confounded. In the same way, different styles of music take on the character of discrete languages, with elements that both denote and connote (more so the latter), with a semantic range that is of a piece with an aggregation of associations, both conscious and subliminal, in the minds and memories of those who hear it or perform it.

Therefore — and this is where Swain wades into choppy waters — some musical styles are more inherently suited for use in the liturgy, and other styles less suited (or, he would say, simply unsuited), all because of their semantic range. Indeed, he develops this idea extensively; it is the linchpin to his critical infrastructure. (This is not the only place he engages the subject; Swain wrote Musical Languages in 1997.)

The main trajectory of the volume combines the areas of Swain’s demonstrated expertise — music history, music theory, and critical theory — with his areas of considerable knowledge — liturgy, theology, and language theory — to produce a pointed polemical thrust in the debates on the true meaning and proper interpretation of Vatican II in general and SC in particular. He is evidently a faithfully practicing and theologically informed Roman Catholic Christian, who is comfortable integrating scholarship with faith. He takes an unabashed traditionalist interpretive stance toward SC, in opposition to those who contend for the “spirit” of Vatican II, in distinction from what the official documents of the council actually say (and, in Chapter 19, offers a close reading of several key sections of SC in support of his arguments). At some risk, he avers that there is such a thing as absolute truth and, in art, absolute beauty. Beauty is manifestly not in the subjective eye of the beholder. It is defensible to make judgments about whole style categories of music that are not appropriate for the liturgy. Yes, he realizes, this exposes him to the charge of elitism, to which he might well respond, “Bring it!” One of his principal bogeymen is the notion of democracy applied to music, which he considers a category error of the first order.

Where does Swain hope his theoretical and critical perambulations will lead clergy and choir directors and organists who are responsible for liturgical music in parish and cathedral churches? If his work were to contribute to a renewal of plainchant as a thriving musical language, I suspect he would be overjoyed. For Episcopalians, the plainchant idiom might best be typified by the fairly familiar music of the opening dialogue of the Great Thanksgiving and the Proper Preface, leading up to a Sanctus sung to the setting by Merbecke (H1982, S-113) or Hurd (S-124).

Swain also advocates for a revival of the refined choral language of classical polyphony, brought to an apex in the 16th century by Palestrina, Victoria, Byrd, and their contemporaries, precisely because of the character of rhythmic fluidity that it shares with plainchant. He would, as well, be gratified if the proper Latin Rite antiphons for the introit, offertory, and Communion at each Mass were not universally ignored in favor of the rubrical option for a strophic hymn or other song in those positions. There are also things he would have church music leaders eschew, including the entire folk revival repertory rooted in the 1970s, purveyed by the St. Louis Jesuits, and made widely accessible by such collections as Glory & Praise.

How might Anglicans and Episcopalians be prompted by Swain’s survey of the Catholic liturgical-musical universe to reappraise our liturgical-musical practice? Those who swim in certain currents of the Anglo-Catholic stream could perhaps at first be tempted to pat themselves on the back for hanging on to the “minor propers,” that is, the ancient antiphons and Psalm verses for the introit, gradual, offertory, and Communion on each Sunday and feast day. In practice, however, these items are often spoken rather than sung, thus denying their inherent character and historical origin as song. And to compound incoherence, they are usually employed not in place of (as Swain advocates) but in addition to strophic hymns.

We might also ask how our service music (congregational settings of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Fraction Anthem, whether Agnus Dei or something else) stacks up against the criteria enunciated by Swain. It’s very much a mixed bag. For these items, we tend not to drink too heavily from the folk revival current that he so disdains, though some of our standard repertory is of dubious artistic quality. (Does anybody really like Robert Powell’s Gloria [S-280] or is it sung so widely because it’s easy to learn?) But there are some gems. The setting of the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (traditional language texts) by Healy Willan is artistically superb, yet accessible to most congregations served by a competent organist. The Gloria is initially challenging, to be sure, and Swain complains that initial pushback too often leads to withdrawal and substitution of something that can be learned immediately. But it is immensely rewarding, once learned. Similarly, the settings in David Hurd’s Plainsong Mass would seem to exemplify all the characteristics cited by Swain by which the musical language of plainchant commends itself.

At a recent celebration of the Eucharist prior to a meeting of the diocesan council in Springfield, with just 20 in the congregation, we used Swain’s liturgical-musical paradigm smoothly and gracefully, with a minimum of fuss and effort — no printed programs, no instrumental accompaniment, no stage directions. We sang the Hurd Trisagion in lieu of the Gloria, we greeted the Gospel with a well-known plainsong Alleluia, we chanted the dialogue and preface according to the traditional tone, we sang the Hurd Sanctus,and the traditional plainsong Our Father. There were no additional hymns, and the ceremonial was simple, but it was in every sense a “sung Mass.” It was an example of letting the shape and rhythm of the liturgy shine through, with music serving its proper auxiliary role, making the event transcendent.

The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins is Bishop of Springfield and serves on the Living Church Foundation’s board.


I don’t often post articles from ‘Living Church -, a conservative blog-site in the U.S., – but I do share some of the concerns of the writer of this article. Have our modern ‘Prayer’n’Praise’ congregations lost the traditional ear for decent music that has enhanced public worship for many centuries of devotion in our Church?

I ponder this question as my wife, Diana, and I set off for a well-earned rest from our post-quake (4 years now) City of Christchurch in New Zealand. Our home parish church of Saint Michael and All Angels does its very best to provide an eclectic mix of modern music (accompanied mostly by our re-furbished organ and an accomplished robed choir) and the treasury of traditional plainsong and polyphonic music that has come to us down through the centuries of Anglo-catholic usage.

Our Sunday worship  – apart from a traditional 8am BCP Celebration – consists of a 10am Solemn Mass and Evensong and Benediction, with a monthly Taize Service offering the chants of the Taize Community in common with many other inter-denominational communities. We also have a Daily Mass tradition, sans music.

This Sunday, Diana and I expect to be present at Sung services in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, with its wonderful musical tradition, before embarking on a Cruise of the North Pacific – during which we will keep up our own course of Daily Prayer, with the hope of Eucharistic worship normally available to people on cruise vessels.

On our Sunday of disembarkation, we hope to be worshiping with the congregation at Christchurch Saint Laurence in Sydney, with whom we share a parochial life-style of liturgical worship – with a wonderful choir and organist. So, for us, a change in worship circumstances for 5 weeks, during which I shall only lightly be engaging in posts on my blog. Pray for us and we will for you! Blessings!

Father Ron, Christchurch, New Zealand

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