Thinking Anglicans

Welsh bishops statement on civil partnerships

Updated 12 December

The Bishops of the Church in Wales, at a recent meeting of the Bench of Bishops, agreed the following statement on Civil Partnerships:

In December 2005 the Civil Partnership Act comes into force. As a result, two people of the same sex will acquire a new legal status through registering a civil partnership. This will have very significant implications for their rights and responsibilities in respect of taxation, nationality and immigration, inheritance, liability for maintenance and child support, tenancies, employment and pension benefits. The Bishops of the Church in Wales cannot and would not wish to prevent what the law allows for Church members, both lay and clerical. The legislation leaves entirely open the nature of the commitment that members of a couple choose to make to each other when forming a civil partnership. It is not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship. The new legislation makes no change in the law in relation to marriage and the Government has stated that it has no intention of introducing same-sex ‘marriage’.

As a result, people in a variety of relationships will be able to register as civil partners. The Act does not allow church buildings to be used for registering civil partnerships, and the Bishops do not intend to produce an authorised public liturgy for such registrations.”

Copies of the statement have been distributed to members of the church’s Governing Body and to all clerics serving within the Church in Wales.

END 3rd December 2005

Update 12 December

Andrew Goddard has published a response to this statement here

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k1eranc
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k1eranc

The English bishops should be kicking themselves right now. They could have put out a simple statement like this and the hassle would have gone over the horizon. Still, I suppose London IS halfway between Cardiff and Rome.

RMF
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RMF

I don’t know if this has been mentioned on-site before (a search revealed nothing), but Theology Wales in 2004 published a report called “Theology Wales – The Church and Homosexuality – A contribution to the debate”. It is at the Church in Wales website at http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/theologywales/
I haven’t had the chance to read through all of it but it is very interesting.

Martin Reynolds
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These contributions to Theology Wales were followed up by the first of a series of conferences in Cardiff.
As yet only two of the papers presented that day are available, the others are, I suspect, awaiting publication by the contributors publishers. They are at: http://kaffisos.notlong.com/

Simon Dawson
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I find an interesting juxtaposition between this thread (on the Welsh Bishop’s statement) and the thread above on Changing Attitudes (Nigeria). It provides a comparison in which the Welsh Bishops come off badly in my opinion. We all know that the church is decades behind the rest of the country in its attitude to homosexuality. But I wonder if that is partly the fault of the churches’ own gay members of the priesthood. Within the UK, in the armed forces, teaching, nursing, police force, banking and and in so many other professions, members of those bodies have been brave enough… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I totally agree, Simon.

And it may be that it is right to withdraw from paid work in a homophobic institution

Rodney
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Rodney

Simon, congratulations. You have said exactly what has been on my mind, the more so in the light of the Vatican’s directives about the admission of gay men to seminaries and ordination. Every gay bishop, priest and deacon under Roman authority must, if he has an ounce of self-respect, now resign his ministry, the celibate ones included. It will be costly, but in the end each one will be able to look himself in the eye again. As I’ve said before, the sky won’t fall in: and it’s quite safe out here. There’s plenty of room, and a warm welcome.

Prior Aelred
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Simon (Dawson) — What you present is basically what happened in the Episcopal Church — when I joined PECUSA (as it still then was), it was obvious that the organist & the choir director (& several members of the choir) were gay (BTW, I didn’t know that use of the word at that time) although no one actually said anything about it — having been a Baptist, I thought that was quite advanced. But increasingly, the gay members of the church decided that they weren’t going to stay in the closet any more & forced the rest of us to… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

I think one large difference between Wales/ECUSA and the CofE is that, although liberals have a dominant grasp on power in the heirarchy here too, the lower echelons and the churches are full of evangelicals, charismatics and traditionalists, and nearly all the largest growing churches are from one of those three traditions. Liberal churches seem to think they are big if they have 200 on the electoral role. Therefore, I think, many liberals in the heirachy would rather keep their positions of power and influence than stand up for their true beliefs. If they were really being honest and “broad”… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Since when have ‘liberals’ been dominant in the hierarchy?

Sentamu and Wright liberals? Don’t think so.

In fact, there aren’t many Bishops who I would regard as genuine liberals.

Dave
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Dave

Oops, that was a bit too strong, sorry. I’d prefer to say that I think “that liberals in the heirachy might want to ask themselves whether they don’t stand up for their true beliefs because they are afraid of loosing power and influence. And, if that is the case, whether, in order to allow the church to be honest and truly “broad”, and since the church is not as predominantly liberal as the hierachy, they would support positive discrimination in order to quickly move to a more proportionate representation of the majority theological positions among Diocesans (and other senior appointments).

Dave
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Dave

Merseymike wrote: “there aren’t many Bishops who I would regard as genuine liberals” Dear Mike, maybe there are few Bishops who are as liberal as you, but you have to admit that you are not the archetypal Anglican! What I want is the heirarchy to recognise that they have to make positive moves. At the moment liberal preferment is obviously disproportionate compared the theologies of clergy and churches (especially the successful ones). Liberal catholic inclination/sympathizers (a la Affirming Catholics) are about 50% of Diocesans; there is quite a reasonable representation of trad anglo-catholics (10%); more liberal evangelicals are moderately well… Read more »

Gareth
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Gareth

I agree with Simon’s sentiment. I am a church in wales priest who recently resigned from f/t ministy so that I sould live openly and honestly with my partner. The economy of half truth leads only to a diminished and ultimately unsatisfactory existence which is less than the fulness of life to which Christ has called each one of us.

RMF
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RMF

Well said, Gareth. But what are you doing now?

Dave
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Dave

Dear Gareth, I’m glad that you were prepared to stand up for what you believe in, even though I don’t agree with what you believe about a Christian’s freedom to express his/her sexuality!

I don’t think that sexuality or anything else, even those things that we use to define who we are, are excluded from the call of Christ is to follow Him. I hope that you will one day come to appreciate that as much as I sympathise with your previous predicament as a priest.