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Saturday, 7 July 2007

On debating difficult issues - (c) 7July2007

On Saturday afternoon in Synod, we were time-tabled to debate 'Possible Military Action in Iran' (GS Misc 855a & GS Misc 855b). Political debates are often delicate, and church issues can be misconstrued in reporting sometimes, so I was encouraged that here was an attempt to deal with a world issue that was so potentially volatile.

However, soon after the debate was introduced by an excellent and sensitive speech, someone from the floor asked to 'move next business'. It was done so by a synod member who had contact with the church in Iran, and wanted to make sure that sensitivities were not damaged just before a new bishop started ministry in that part of the world.
The motion as put was actually trying to prevent possible military action - a concept that few in Iran would have objection too.
The presenter of the motion maintained that synod should be mature enough to have such a debate, with tempered and measured language, and sensitivity to views other than those of members of the synod. There was also an issue with the quashing of a Private Members Motion that had risen by popular demand as subject for debate - how appropriate is it to prevent such an issue being debated?
A vote was taken as to whether the 'next business' should be moved to. A show of hands was too close to call - a count of the full house denied by a very small majority the issue being debated.
I trust that friends of all faiths in Iran will know that this does not mean that the General Synod of the CofE does not support them; far from it. It was through not wishing to offend any that the debate was withdrawn.
Personally, I wish we could have said something that was a bit mire positive, rather than just not saying anything negative.
Alastair GS101

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