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 Issues | The Church | Division in the Communion

Archbishop of Canterbury's secretive communion service with Clergy Consultation

Church Society Council received information in September 2007 of a meeting of a group called Clergy Consultation at which Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not only speaking but due to preside at Holy Communion. Both the Archbishop and the CC group had wished to keep this service and meeting secret but Church Society viewed that it was of sufficent concern given the public nature of the Archbishops' office, the canons and law of the Church and the fact that the group involves clergy, that people ought to know.

Clergy Consultation says of itself that it is “a confidential support organisation for male and female lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender clergy, religious, ordinands, seminarians and their partners.”

The Clergy Consultation have made public representation on issues regarding homosexual practice in the Church of England and Anglican Communion. There are known to be a number of clergy in civil partnerships in the Church, some of whom have apparently refused to give any undertakings about their relaships and others whom Bishops have refused to ask. In addition there are many clergy teaching people that homosexual practice acceptable. The group does not identify in its literature or website any of the individuals in leadership, though some previous convenors have identifeid themselves.

The former convenor, Canon David Pollard died at the end of 2006. He appears to have been known in Chichester Diocese as a campaigner on these issues.

In 2004 a petition by Inclusive Church was apparently signed by Bertrand Olivier as "Convenor. Clergy Consultation".

The Archbishop might have defended the meeting with such a group on the grounds that he is engaged in a listening process. However, by leading the communion service he is clearly doing far more than just listening.

They state in the leaflet: "For the sake of the Archbishop they have asked their members to keep the meeting secret and not to report what is said at it." The meeting is scheduled to be held on 29th November at St. Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, London and the Archbishop has apparently asked to know in advance who will be present.


Further note : Bertrand Olivier, mentioned above as a former Conenor of Clergy Consultation, is incumbent of All Hallows by the Tower in London Diocese. The Archbishop of Canterbury is patron of All Hallows. In the summer of 2007 Canon James Rosenthal was ordained deacon in the Diocese of London and became an honorary assistant curate at All Hallows. Canon Rosenthal has been for some time the Communications Director of the Anglican Communion.

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