News from Forward in Faith and The Society
Colin Podmorereports on recent and forthcoming developments
News from Forward in Faith
Now that our struggle for provision that is adequate and not time-limited has been won, supporting parishes in passing and maintaining resolutions under the House of Bishops’ Declaration is an important role for Forward in Faith. There is information about this on our website, and further material is added from time to time. (Recent additions include a table for working out the dates by which notice of PCC meetings and agenda items needs to be given, and guidance on calculating the majorities needed, depending on the number of PCC members present.) Packs with the advice booklet and leaflets are still available from the office to any parish that needs them.
Resolutions are being passed in large numbers and by large majorities – often unanimously. Bishops’ responses vary: many are gracious, but some reply with questions about consultation with the congregation (which is recommended but not required) or even with the local secular community (which is not mentioned in any official document). Some are slow in replying.
Some request meetings with the whole PCC. (The House of Bishops’ Guidance envisages consultation with representatives appointed by the PCC – not with the whole PCC. This consultation is simply in order to enable the Bishop to ascertain what the theological conviction underlying the resolution is. Where the PCC has approved a statement setting out the theological conviction, it is difficult to see what further consultation would add.)
Trying as much of this may be, it is important to be patient and pursue the process courteously to its conclusion. If a satisfactory conclusion is not reached, Forward in Faith will support the PCC in submitting a grievance.
The Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, has published two reports so far.
The first rejected a complaint by Watch about the Chrism Masses celebrated by bishops of The Society (as an essential part of their sacramental ministry) with the priests who minister under their oversight. (A fortnight later, Watch’s response was still awaited.)
The second responded to a concern raised by Forward in Faith that a female priest had been authorized by licence to exercise priestly ministry in a resolution parish, even though the possibility of issuing a licence in terms compatible with the resolution had been drawn to the Bishop’s attention beforehand.
Links to both reports and to a helpful summary of the main point of Sir Philip’s second report may be found in the relevant news items on the Forward in Faith website.
Sir Philip’s careful and detailed reports confirm that he will adjudicate dispassionately, without fear or favour. They will inspire confidence in the arrangements established under the Declaration.
Elections to the General Synod will be held later this month and early next month. The fourth of the five Guiding Principles expresses the Church of England’s commitment to enabling Anglicans who are committed to the traditional Catholic understanding of the threefold ministry to ‘flourish within its life and structures’. With the Catholic Group in General Synod, we have encouraged Catholic Anglicans to respond to this invitation to flourish by standing as candidates in the elections.
In the diocesan constituencies the lay electors are the members of deanery synods. Clergy electors include all beneficed and licensed clergy and those with PTO who are members of Deanery Synods. If you are an elector, please remember to vote! If you need advice on voting, please contact one of your FiF branch chairmen or, if necessary, our Elections Officer Anne Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please pray for the candidates and the electors. A prayer leaflet is enclosed with this issue of NEW DIRECTIONS. A black-and-white version suitable for photocopying is also available at <www.forwardinfaith.com/2015general.php>.
Some time ago the Council decided that access to the current issue of NEW DIRECTIONS online should no longer be free of charge. (Access to the online archive will continue to be free of charge.) The necessary arrangements for payment have now been introduced. Paid-up members of Forward in Faith who would like to be given access to the current issue online free of charge should please contact David Oldroyd-Bolt (email@example.com), indicating whether they wish to have online access in addition to or instead of receiving a printed copy by post.
This year’s National Assembly will be held at the Church of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, on Saturday 14 November, beginning with Mass at 10.30 am and concluding with Benediction at 4.30 pm. The Council will finalize the agenda at its meeting on 28 September.
News from The Society
The process of registering priests as Priests of The Society continues. By mid-August over 500 priests had sent their declaration to the relevant bishop, and had been entered in the Society Clergy database. All of them are either incumbents or are priests who hold a current licence or permission to officiate in a diocese of the Church of England. Bishops’ representatives have been asked to approach priests who have not yet registered to encourage them to do so.
It is now possible for male and female permanent deacons, and male deacons who are preparing for ordination to the priesthood, to register as Deacons of The Society. The necessary Declaration can be obtained from the appropriate bishop’s office, or downloaded from the Society website at <www.sswsh.com/Priests-and-Deacons.php>.
The affiliation of Society parishes has understandably proceeded slowly. Any parish that is under the oversight of a member of the Council of Bishops (as the diocesan or area bishop, by virtue of an Act of Synod petition that remains in force during the transitional period, or by virtue of a resolution under the Declaration) can affiliate. However, as a PCC resolution is required, many parishes are waiting until a new resolution under the Declaration has been passed before voting to affiliate. By mid-August there were 75 Society parishes, with new forms reaching the office at the rate of five
or more each week. Affiliated parishes receive a new porchcard and are listed on the Society website.
In response to a number of requests, not least from the Council of Forward in Faith, the Council of Bishops of The Society has prepared two statements on issues relating to communion and ordination, under the overall title Communion, Catholicity and a Catholic Life. Drafts of the statements were discussed first with a group of members of the Council of Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group, and then by the whole Council of Forward in Faith. In the light of the comments received, the Council of Bishops finalized the texts in July.
The first statement, a statement of principles entitled ‘Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England’, is published in this issue of NEW DIRECTIONS. The second statement, a statement of policy and pastoral guidance entitled
A‘ Catholic Life in the Church of England’, will appear in next
A gatefold leaflet entitled Communion and Full Communion will also be available shortly. It is hoped that this leaflet will support discussions in the parishes about the need for oversight from a bishop with whom all will be in full communion, because they are able to receive the ministry of all whom that bishop ordains.ND