Justin Welby is the greatest churchman I have ever met, and an outstanding Archbishop of Canterbury. When you meet him you are genuinely moved. If any Churchman has an aura he has it.
He has two very large issues to confront over the next week: I am strongly behind him on one [women bishops] and against him on the second [assisted dying].
- on Monday the Church of England General Synod debates the thorny issue of Women Bishops, with a great prospect of success at last. I am in no doubt that the presence of female vicars has re galvanised the Anglican faith. I see it regularly both in the churches in Tynedale and daily in the House of Commons, where our vicar is female. The Rev Rose Hudson Wilkin has made a huge difference in parliament. My strong hope is that the Synod will change their view on women bishops.
- on Friday the House of Lords begins the debate on the Assisted Dying Bill. I am told there are over 100 speakers in their Lordships debate. This means they will debate through the night. Justin Welby has made his position clear in today's Times. I also have to acknowledge that this Bill is highly unlikely to succeed in parliament, until one of the political parties has the courage to back it. Single member or Private Member Bills rarely ever pass as they are blocked, are subject to lengthy filibuster or talked out.
However, Saturday's announcement by former Archbishop Carey is a true ground breaker: put simply, Carey has changed his mind. His views are in all the papers - he argues that it is not true Christianity to ignore agony and suffering. As he puts it:
"In strictly observing the sanctity of life the church could now actually be sanctioning anguish and pain, the very opposite of the Christian message of hope."
For those who oppose this Bill I would urge you to read it before coming to a judgement.
The BBC report is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28274531
My speeches and blogs on this issue are easily found: the House of Commons last debated this issue in March 2012: the debate moved me immensely. Read the speech of Paul Blomfield, who is a Sheffield Labour MP, and friend and colleague of mine: his is an amazing speech. Mine is here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-03-27a.1373.0&s=%28%28assisted+suicide%29%29+speaker%3A24962#g1432.1