Thinking Anglicans

Civil partnerships and bishops – latest comments

Updated 4.15 pm

The Bishop of Salisbury has issued this statement: The Church of England and the criterion for episcopacy.

…The other, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, considered the implications of civil partnerships in relation to the episcopate, something which had not been dealt with explicitly in the pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005.

In December the House of Bishops confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

This information has been available since the Summary of Decisions of the House of Bishops was posted on 18th December. It is good deal less dramatic than has been presented in the media in the last few days.

It might be helpful to note that other criteria are also used in the selection of bishops. The substance of this is contained in the service for the ordination and consecration of bishops…

Church Society has issued this press release:

Civil Partnerships and Christian Leadership

The church is open to all people, whatever their sexual orientation, to respond to Jesus’ call to “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark chapter 1 verse 15). We stand in firm agreement with the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.

We recognise how pastorally unhelpful the existence of civil partnerships is for gay, lesbian, and bisexual disciples in our congregations who are positively committed, in response to God’s word, to celibacy and fleeing sexual sin daily. Like many heterosexual believers, some have given up long-term relationships in their pursuit of Christ-like godliness in this area, often with great pain and immense difficulty. Our prayers are with them, and we would ask the whole church to be sensitive and supportive, as they look to Christ Jesus our only Lord and Saviour.

In this context, we do not believe that church leaders at any level should confuse and undermine the call of the gospel — to deny oneself and follow Jesus — which unfortunately would be the case if those who have chosen a different path by entering civil partnerships are permitted to undertake authorised public ministry in the church.

Church Society Council

Canon Chris Sugden has quite a lot to say about the topic in this article.

Savi Hensman has written at Ekklesia about how Uganda archbishop highlights Anglican differences on sexuality.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this statement: The Church of Nigeria Responds to the Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships. Full text below the fold.

1. The Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) meeting for their annual retreat held from Jan 7/11, 2013, at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha Otor, Delta State, Nigeria, heard with dismay the news of the recent action of the Church of England House of Bishops. The decision to permit homosexual clergy in civil partnerships to now be considered for the episcopacy is one step removed from the moral precipice that we have already witnessed in The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

2. When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.

3. We are also grieved by the timing of this decision coming only days before the retirement of Archbishop Rowan Williams and before Bishop Justin Welby becomes the new Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge the House of Bishops to reconsider their decision so as to allow for a full, prayerful and sober reflection on the call on all clergy, especially bishops, to live holy lives and not encourage what are, at best, morally ambiguous partnerships that make it impossible for a bishop to be a wholesome example to the flock. Especially since the supposed assurances of celibacy, while perhaps well intentioned, are both unworkable and unenforceable.

4. As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.

5. In all of this we continue to give thanks for the mercy of God newly revealed to us in this season of The Epiphany and we are filled with gratitude for the millions of faithful Anglicans within the GAFCON/FCA community who have not ‘bowed the knee’ to the contemporary idols of secularism and moral expediency.

6. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

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Rod GillisRosie BatesDavis Mac-IyallaMartin ReynoldsFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

Well, the comments from Chris Sugden and Church Society are reassuring in one sense. They make it clear that no one sharing their views could ever be appointed again in the Church of England as they could not be (in AM and CS terms) a focus of unity.

Stephen
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Stephen

Re Church Society: Wow! Simply breathtaking! One in the eye for those who say there is no life on other planets! If I were a gay Christian I would be so reassured that the Church Society was alongside me, being sensitive and supportive, in my ‘daily flight from sexual sin.’ Although being a good Christian, I would not be concerned with myself, but with all my straight friends who had clearly never understood that stricture about sex being ‘exclusively for heterosexual marriage.’ This statement is almost like a caricature of those emanating from the Church of England over the past… Read more »

commentator
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commentator

I wonder if these words of the Bishop of Salisbury are in any way akin to those he spoke whilst the Vicar of St Martin in the Field?

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

The Bishop of Salisbury gives me hope – as does Bishop Alan.

They can’t carry it all on their own though.

I had always wondered and indeed hoped for life on other planets – even if not ‘intelligent life’.

I feel myself to be more in flight from the pronouncements of Church Society – maybe it only feels daily — than from sex temptation, which I may have to disappoint Church Society, but I do not find this the problem you had feared / phantasised. So Rejoice !

(Typo resoved – sorri)

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

So now civil partnerships a ‘unhelpful’ to those gltb people who are trying to avoid their self defined ‘sin’. Well, tough. A life of self imposed celibacy isn’t supposed to be a bed of roses but they have all those lovely biblical verses and those lovely supportive Christians to help them through it, don’t they?

Rosie Bates
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Rosie Bates

It is good that truth is ‘coming out’. Awful schismatic hopes from Chris Sugden – as if any of us even dared to hope for better. Well we do hope for better and we are bound (literally) in Christ to hope and pray without ceasing for better. Each hostage and prisoner this side takes – and this is what they are actually doing, whether they realise this or not – is one more human being we desire to liberate. Christ will bind for the moment in order to bring about true freedom and healing and the fully representative ministry the… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

I notice that both Kenyan and Nigerian responses talk about civil partnerships as morally “ambiguous”. Just the same phrase as Anglican Mainstream have been promoting to cast doubt on the Church of England’s qualified acceptance of this piece of progressive social justice.

How amazing that they all hit on it quite independently!

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Yes..I wonder who wrote the Nigerian piece…given the stilted and ungrammatical english language which he has used in the past Im sure it isnt the Archbishop…Canon Sugden perhaps? The reference to a possible opt out in 2005 was on Nazir Ali’s blog…

JCF
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JCF

“We recognise how pastorally unhelpful the existence of civil partnerships is for gay, lesbian, and bisexual disciples in our congregations who are positively committed”

“…and Down is Up, and 2+2=5!”

Dear Church Society: Our Lord’s command to be “In the World/Not Of the World” does NOT mean “take up permanent residence in Bizarro-World”.

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

“…the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.”

Note how they hide the division amongst evangelicals and do not add….and not for remarried divorcees.

Remember they have no coherent understanding of heterosexual marriage.

Rosie Bates
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Rosie Bates

Yes it is Jeremy -perhaps why I got my name mixed up – same big mouths spewing out erroneous, careless and damaging theology.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What the oddly-named ‘Church (&) Society’ is doing here is to (notionally) restrict sexual activity to the enclosed environment of heterosexual, intentional, procreation. This would surely limit connubial congress to those occasions when both wife and husband are ready and willing to beget a child. How soul-less, and how low an estimation of ‘The great love of God as revealed in the Son’, Whose wondrous creation has given us all the gift of sexual expression. This gift can, of course, be denied – but not for selfish reasons; and surely not to ‘avoid the occasions of sin’ (leading to Hell?)… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Mr Chris Sugden would, naturally, have been a guest at the enthronement of the new archbishop of Uganda. He is a strong supporter of GAFCON and the North America schismatic entity known as ACNA – whose ‘Archbishop’ was invited to testify to his own spiritual journey in the Enthronement sermon. The new Archbishop, ihis Provincial Charge, made this curious statement: “I call upon all people to join hands to change our attitudes and help our people repent and make our country a better place by practicing justice for all and being responsible, accountable and peace loving people.” If he really… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

There is indeed a consistency of approach and similar wording in the statements from three African Anglican Communion churches. We might expect two or three more. There are presently a handful of white men from Australia, the US and the UK who are exercising considerable influence over how these matters are managed. In the past this blog has shown how some of these men work together to put words in the mouths of Primates. At Primates Meetings their presence and constant council became an open secret. All we are seeing now is the formalisation of this. Just as Anglican communion… Read more »

Davis Mac-Iyalla
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Davis Mac-Iyalla

Is it not the same Dioceses of Salisbury where Colin Coward has been refused PTO?

Rosie Bates
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Rosie Bates

Who is using the language of revenge in these communications? These individuals who are sending out inflamatory (joint?)messages regard us LGTB supporters as being in real danger of entering some future hell state, not realising that they have already made life hellish for many. Because they have taken on the role of ‘gods’ wishing to rule and govern the behaviour of human beings in various matters they have no compunction but to collude, deceive and punish and to threaten further punishment in the name of the Triune God of Christianity – their version of whom we choose to believe cannot… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The “press release” from Church Society Council is cute. Like press releases in general, it’s part spin, part agenda, part corporate image. Note this sentence “We stand in firm agreement with the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.” No mention that the “biblical” marriage paradigm that is being romanticized here, including its divorce provisions, was a mechanism to administer women as property.