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Statement regarding University of Kent Honorary Degree ceremony, November 2019

Statement regarding University of Kent Honorary Degree ceremony, November 2019

Ann Furedi, Chief Executive Officer of bpas, and alumna of the University of Kent, was among those who received an honorary degree from the University at a ceremony hosted in Canterbury Cathedral on 22 November 2019.

The event in question was nothing to do with the Diocese or the wider Church of England. The University of Kent regularly uses the Cathedral as one of a number of locations to host its graduation ceremonies where thousands of degrees and honorary degrees have been given. The Cathedral does not have any involvement with the content of these events or their choice of honorary degree recipients.

The statement in an online article that the Dean of Canterbury is, “responsible for hosting the ceremony” is therefore tendentious at best. The quote attributed to the Archbishop of Canterbury is nothing to do with this event and, as is the case around the country, the Diocesan Bishop does not decide which events take place in the Cathedral. Comment was not sought from the Archbishop in relation to this article.

The Archbishop upholds the Church of England’s teaching on abortion, which was clearly stated in the General Synod in November 2017:

“The Church of England combines principled opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative. This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love.

Women facing unwanted pregnancies realise the gravity of the decision they face: all abortions are tragedies, since they entail judging one individual’s welfare against that of another (even if one is, as yet, unborn).

Every possible support, especially by church members, needs to be given to those who are pregnant in difficult circumstances and care, support and compassion must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy.”

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