Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria

“In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome. That outcome must be one that improves the chances of long-term peace and reconciliation.”

On 29th August 2013, the House of Lords was recalled to take note and debate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke during the debate. He urged that all intermediate steps before opening fire should be taken and expressed concern that intervention from abroad would declare open season on Christian communities in the country and wider region, which have already been devastated. He argued that such a consequence needed to be balanced against the consequences of inaction and that intervention would have  to be effective in preventing any further use or promotion of chemical weapons and make it more possible for Syria and the Middle East to be places without millions of refugees.

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much the opportunity to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and from recent visits and contact with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.

I do not intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law, which is itself based on the Christian theory of just war. That has been said very eloquently. However, I want to pick up a couple of points. First, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. In a conflict in another part of the world—a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago—a general said to me, “We have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. The reality is that, until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, just war theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatever under any circumstances. As the noble Lord, Lord Alli, just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria”

Bishop of Wakefield – EU Justice and Home Affairs measures (Written Answer)

On 5th August 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received an answer to a written question on European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures.

Bishop of Wakefield PlattenThe Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, prior to their decision on 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures as provided for by the Lisbon Treaty, guarantees were provided by the European Commission that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice provisions.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. We are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.

Of course it is not possible to predict the final outcome of the discussions with EU institutions, but following the Governments announcement on 9 July the Commission made clear in a press release that it “respects the UK Government’s choice to opt out, which is in line with the Treaty, and welcomes the UK intention to also opt back into certain measures”.

(via Parliament.uk)

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline

Summary & timeline: Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on 17th July 2013, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Bill followed a Government consultation in 2012. The Church of England made a formal response to that consultation in June 2012 and accompanied it with a press release. In December 2012 the Government published a summary of responses to the consultation, alongside its own response. Continue reading “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline”