“Service, in the Christian tradition, is a vocation. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples he reversed the power relationship between the teacher and his followers. Two thousand years ago, service never made you great; it was a sign of your enslavement. These days, by contrast, everyone wants to do us a service” – Bishop of Norwich, 27/11/14
On 27th November 2014 the House of Lords debated a motion from the Crossbench Peer and former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, on ‘the role of religion and belief in British public life’. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, spoke in the debate, focusing on themes of trust and a vocation to service in public life.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, like other noble Lords I am very grateful to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, for securing this debate. I notice that the commission of which he is part is considering how religion may contribute to,
“greater levels of mutual trust and collective action, and to a more harmonious society”.
On 27th November 2014 the House of Lords debated a motion from the Crossbench Peer and former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, on ‘the role of religion and belief in British public life’. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Rev David Urquhart spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to my colleague, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, for shaping this debate and for the remarks just offered by the noble Baroness. It may be a great surprise to many of our fellow citizens that public religious figures should be asked to play a part at all in 21st century society. However, the least surprised in the city of Birmingham are my interfaith colleagues. They expect the leaders and members at a local parish level and at a national level in what they regard as the indigenous national religion to play a full part in society and to articulate the needs, values and beliefs of those who have faith on things that are a matter of importance to the whole of society, whether they are faithful or not. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham in Lords Debate on Religion and Belief in Public Life”
“To regard the English-Scottish relationship as simply the primary and maximal example of broader devolved relationships in the UK would be to invite a repetition of recent errors of judgment.”
On 29th October 2014, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in a House of Lords debate on devolution following the Scottish referendum, led by Baroness Stowell of Beeston. The Bishop reflected on his own experiences of studying and living in Scotland, and the relationship between England and Scotland. He urged caution in how politicians and the public approach matters of devolution and nationhood, noting that the post-referendum landscape was a good opportunity to renew the Union, whilst respecting cultural differences and political realities.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, bishops need to tread warily when discussing matters Scottish. Although I am thoroughly English by birth and background, I can, I think, claim rather closer connections with Scotland than some whom I observe wearing the kilt at the Chester Caledonian Association dinners which I regularly attend.
Let me explain. I have a Scottish wife—my one and only wife, I hasten to add—and two Scottish degrees, all three from Edinburgh. I trained for ordination in Scotland as somebody sponsored by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I have owned a house in Scotland for 25 years and will happily retire there in a few years’ time. I am Anglican co-chair of the current Church of England-Church of Scotland ecumenical conversations. So tread I shall, if nevertheless warily. If I have learnt one thing in my discussions with the Church of Scotland, it is that were the Kirk ever to contemplate having bishops, which remains, I think, doubtful, they would need to be very different from English bishops to be acceptable. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester takes part in debate on devolution and the Scottish referendum”
In advance of Scotland’s referendum on independence on 18th September 2014, we publish below some links to statements and contributions to the debate by Christian commentators, academics and bloggers. It also includes references made by the Lords Spiritual in parliament. Continue reading “Scotland’s Referendum 2014”
On 28th July 2014, two bishops took part in a division of the House of Lords on Crossbench Peer Baroness Boothroyd’s Motion to Regret on the role of the Leader of the House of Lords.
Baroness Boothroyd moved that this House welcomes the appointment of Baroness Stowell of Beeston as Leader of the House of Lords, but regrets the decision of the Prime Minister to diminish the standing of the House by failing to make her a full member of the Cabinet; and requests that the Prime Minister reconsiders this decision.
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster (who also spoke during the debate) and the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, voted ‘content’ with the motion. No bishop voted ‘not content’.
There were: Contents: 177 | Not Contents: 29 | Result: Government Defeat
On 28th July 2014, former speaker of the House of Commons, and Crossbench Peer the Rt Hon. the Baroness Boothroyd, moved a Motion to Regret in the House of Lords. The Motion stated:
That this House welcomes the appointment of Baroness Stowell of Beeston as Leader of the House of Lords, but regrets the decision of the Prime Minister to diminish the standing of the House by failing to make her a full member of the Cabinet; and requests that the Prime Minister reconsiders this decision.
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the debate on the motion. He spoke of the way in which power is distributed throughout the contemporary political system and how this distribution of power may need to be reconsidered if the public are to be re-engaged with the political process.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I want to associate these Benches fully with both sides of the Motion; first, the welcome to the noble Baroness in her role as Leader of the House and, secondly, the regrets that have been expressed already in our debate. Rather than focus on the details, I shall make a few comments about the wider symbolic significance of these events. A healthy society distributes power. The banking crisis arose partly because power got too concentrated in certain institutions and in a certain section of the financial community. Government, if it is about nothing else, is about the exercise of power. We have to accept and acknowledge that, and not try to deny it. The exercise of power calls for clear leadership, which is right, too. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester speaks during debate on constitutional role of Leader of the House of Lords”
“The relationship between Church and State is not a matter of special privileges granted by an all-powerful State to one particular faith. It is a relationship that has been at the heart of our forms of government for many centuries, and which has weathered enormous changes – even a civil war.”