Thinking Anglicans

General Synod Questions on Sexuality Reviews

There were a number of questions asked relating to the two recently announced House of Bishops working groups dealing with sexuality issues. None of these questions were reached during the session, so here are the written answers that would have been given.

Judith Maltby asked
Q. Given the inclusion of a man who is not a bishop in the group to advise the House of Bishops on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality, are there any plans to include some women members in order to achieve at least a partial gender balance on this currently all-male group addressing the complex issue of human sexuality?

The Archbishop of York to reply:
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury and I made the appointments to this group, after consultation with Standing Committee of the House. It was, like the parallel group on civil partnerships, established as a small episcopal group. We concluded, however, that there was advantage in inviting a distinguished and independent outsider to chair and facilitate the process.

We do not intend to enlarge the membership of the group but it will be open to the group to consider how others can help it in its work, including, if it so decides, through inviting individuals to serve as consultants or assessors.

Giles Goddard asked:
Q. In the interests of transparency and of gaining the confidence of the Church of England in their reports, how are the terms of reference for the House of Bishops’ working groups on human sexuality and civil partnerships to be agreed and when will they be published?

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. The 1 July statement from the House of Bishops constitutes the terms of reference for both groups.

Stephen Coles asked
Q. What provisions are being made to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Anglicans are consulted by both the group reviewing the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships and that advising the House on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality.

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. Before Christmas I wrote on behalf of the civil partnership group to a number of groups inviting them to submit representations and have now received replies from them all and some submissions from others. These include a detailed submission from the LGBT Coalition and some of its associated bodies. I understand that the group on human sexuality is to have its first meeting shortly and will be considering then how it is going to go about its task.

Stephen Coles asked:
Q. To what extent were the provisions of the Equality Act taken into account by the House of Bishops when they declared a moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships to the episcopate?

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. On this as on other matters where legal issues are at stake, the House had the benefit of support from its Legal Adviser who had been involved both in the preparation of the relevant papers and was present at the discussion which took the decisions set out in the 1 July statement.

April Alexander asked:
Q. Recent press statements (5 January 2012 and 1 July 2011) on human sexuality and on civil partnerships indicate that the appointed working groups undertake to “draw together material from the listening process”. Can further information be provided about this process, including such matters as who has listened to whom (in broad terms), when they listened, what they heard and how they overcame the difficulty that homosexual priests do not feel free to declare themselves in order to participate?

The Bishop of Gloucester to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. The House of Bishops’ mandate for drawing together material from the listening process was set out in its statement of 1 July and given to the group of which I am now a member. We have a more extended timescale than the group reviewing the 2005 statement on civil partnerships and are just about to have our first meeting. So I can’t say much today about how we shall be setting about our task. But I can give an assurance that we shall certainly want, among other things, to assemble and reflect on the very considerable range of material and experience that has emerged from the listening process around dioceses since 1998.

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Erika BakerSpirit of Vatican IIMartin ReynoldsCounterlightFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Circling the wagons.

badman
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badman

The Archbishop of York thinks that the only distinguished and independent outsiders are men? The insiders are men too, of course.
So the women are – what, exactly?

badman
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badman

The insistence on the 1 July statement as the terms of reference shows that this is a foregone conclusion. A reminder of the 1 July 2011 Statement from the House of Bishops on the current review: “It will be undertaken in the context of the Church of England’s teaching on same sex relations as set out in the General Synod motion of November 1987 and Issues in Human Sexuality (a teaching statement from the House of Bishops in 1991). It will also be consistent with the approach taken by the Anglican Communion in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998… Read more »

JeremyP
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JeremyP

@Bishop of Gloucester I will be fascinated to know how he intends to “to assemble and reflect on the very considerable range of material and experience that has emerged from the listening process around dioceses since 1998” as, as far as I know, there has been no one in Church House or anywhere else whose job it has been to co-ordinate responses/initiatives/activities emerging from any kind of ‘listening’. I am engaged with two initiatives in dioceses in this regard – in one there has been nothing at all done since 1998 until now – in the other, there was an… Read more »

Robert Ellis
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Robert Ellis

I despair! The crass arrogance of these people beggers belief! They just don’t get it do they?

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I say the bishop of Sodor and Man should be as welcome on this committee as Sweeney Todd at a pie-makers convention.

Robert ian Williams
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Robert ian Williams

No woman! Even I am genuinely shocked. Would you have the BNP represented on a Commission about racism?

Father Ron Smith
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Judith Maltby’s question was a seminal one – basic to the whole area of gender and sexuality: Where are the women in this process of evaluation? The ABY’s answer to her question reveals that both he and the ABC, who appointed the reviewers, were seemingly intent on appointing only males. Even the non-bishop on the panel is male, and the Archbishops have no intention of extending the panel to include a female representative. Is this not a further indication of misogyny on the part of the Church – especially the ABs – at a time when the inclusion of women… Read more »

Susannah
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Susannah

How can there NOT be a female presence in a group leading explorations into sexuality?

The group is immediately unbalanced and lacking.

It’s like only having English people in a task force on the future of Britain.

Or only having white Britons in a task force on race relations.

It doesn’t seem respectful.

I think they should review the membership of this group.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Once again the Archbishops are oblivious to their own ridiculousness.

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

There is a lot of sniffy homophobia in Anglican clerical circles, as I have noticed over the last 35 years. Yet what I mostly feel when looking at such debates is astonishment at the vast gulf between Anglican attitudes and the total benightedness of bishops in my own church — an obligatory benightedness, since the least glimmer of light (as from Abp Vincent Nicholls) draws shrieks from the right-wing vigilantes and in some cases quick suppression from Rome.

Robert ian Williams
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Robert ian Williams

In 1986 , Robert Paterson , then vicar of a thriving Evangelical parish in Cardiff informed me, there will never be gay marriage in the Anglican Church. Robert was very aware of the homosexual sub-culture in the Diocese of lLandaff, but he preferred not to rock the boat at the time. However he is a very decent man, and he supported female ordination.

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Spirit, for acknowledging the problems of blindness in the R.C. Church, on matters of gender and sexuality. One wishes other R.C.s on this blog could also acknowledge the problems. We Anglicans, at last, are emerging from our mediaeval closet of patriarchalism – and it is causing pain and strife – for bishops, clergy and laity alike – but mostly at the top. God willing, our emergence from the chrysalis of hypocrisy will soon be complete, and we shall be a more broad and inclusive Church as a result. Maybe leaner, but more robust, please God. Blessings, Dear Brother,… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“In 1986 , Robert Paterson , then vicar of a thriving Evangelical parish in Cardiff informed me, there will never be gay marriage in the Anglican Church”

Ah well, that settles that, then!

Counterlight
Guest

“No woman! Even I am genuinely shocked. Would you have the BNP represented on a Commission about racism?”

Perhaps a more accurate metaphor might be a commission on bilingual education made up entirely of Anglophones.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Erica, Robert Paterson is now the bishop of Sodor and Man.

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Hear “gay marriage” and think “homosexual subculture” — a suspect conflation.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thank you Martin, I didn’t make that link.
Still… “never” is a strong word. And whatever those in charge may say or do now, all they’ll be able to do is postpone the inevitable.