Updated again Friday morning
Confusing headlines in this morning’s newspapers:
Telegraph John Bingham Church of England gives blessing to recognising civil partnerships
A report from the Church’s doctrine watchdog urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples” and to be “flexible”.
It said the aim was to enable them to enjoy a “closer approximation” to marriage.
The senior bishop who drafted the missive to priests insisted that it did not amount to a policy u-turn and that an official ban on formal “blessings” for civil partnerships remained in place.
But he said it was clear there was a need for committed same-sex couples to be given recognition and “compassionate attention” from the Church, including special prayers.
Liberal priests, who already conduct unofficial dedication and thanksgiving for gay couples who are not allowed to marry, said it amounted to the first official endorsement for what they do…
Guardian Sam Jones Church of England rejects blessings for same-sex couples
The Church of England has ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples, insisting that such public gestures belong only to heterosexual marriage.
The announcement – made in a report from the church’s faith and order commission entitled Men and Women in Marriage – comes weeks after the outgoing bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, suggested the church consider blessing gay couples as it should “bless true love wherever such love is found”.
The report stresses the church’s immutable definition of marriage as “a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society”, but recognises the existence of same-sex relationships, which it terms “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us”.
The bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the commission, repeated the church’s commitment to providing “care, prayer and compassion” to those who cannot be married in church, but drew the line at blessings for gay couples. “Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone,” he said…
The headline in The Times last night read Bishops stop short of giving blessing to civil partnerships but a subscription is needed to read the full article. Headline now changed to: Bishops devise way of ‘accommodating’ same-sex couples.
A new report on marriage has caused dismay among parts of the Church of England because of its failure to offer official blessings to civil partnerships.
The report, commissioned by the House of Bishops, stops short of endorsing formal public blessings and instead offers priests vague instructions to “devise accommodations” for same-sex couples in their parishes.
These would include “prayer, care and compassionate attention” but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, the Bishop of Coventry the document’s co-author, said…
Church of England priests have been told to provide “accommodations” for gay couples in a new report.
This will include “prayer” and “compassionate attention” but not “formal public blessings” in the report, written by the Bishop of Coventry and entitled “men and women in marriage”.
It is understood that these prayers could take place inside parish churches.
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry said the church remained against same-sex marriage but wished to set “disagreements against a more positive background of how Christians have understood and valued marriage.”
Setting out guidelines, Rev Cocksworth writes: “The form of prayer will depend upon the particular circumstances of the particular case.
“But we are talking about that sort of pastoral care if you like, and prayer, rather than something which is more formal and more public. This is part of the private, the personal, compassionate attention that a priest would give to people. It is not about public, formal recognition.”
The bishop said it is up to parish priests “to make informed, sensible, loving and careful judgments”.
But “what the church doesn’t offer the parish priest is a service of blessing or public recognition”…
The Church of England yesterday signalled that gay couples should be able to have their relationships blessed in church.
It said priests may ‘devise accommodations’ for same-sex couples ‘who seek to engage with the challenges of life responsibly’.
It suggests that public prayers which recognise gay relationships could be introduced in church services by sympathetic clergy.
Yesterday’s paper, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby and the leading bishops, does not change the CofE laws which say homosexual activity is sinful and ban priests from blessing gay relationships.
But it appeared to encourage same-sex couples, saying the Church must show a ‘degree of flexibility’ over gay relationships, and adding: ‘the Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional conditions as simply closed.’
The proposal will infuriate traditionalists and is likely to reignite the bitter conflict within the Church over same-sex relationships.
The document likened the case of same-sex relationships to the controversy a decade ago over the remarriage of divorcees.
This ended with divorcees officially allowed to have second weddings in church, if they can find a sympathetic priest, even though CofE doctrines say marriage is for life…
Church Times Madeleine Davies Marriage: a ‘gift from God’ that does not include same-sex couples, says report
AN uncompromising document released this week reinforces the ban on public forms of blessing for those in same-sex relationships. And it states that, although the introduction of same-sex marriage will not make heterosexual marriage “disappear”, it may make “the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find”.
…The report does not affirm those in “human relationships which fall short of marriage relationships”, in contrast to the response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, published last year, which stated that “same-sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity” ( News, 15 June). Its language is more guarded, stating that: “in pastoral responses, a degree of flexibility may be called for in finding ways to express the Church’s teaching practically. . . The Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional circumstances as simply closed.”
..The Church, the new report suggests, can “devise accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding norm”. On Tuesday, Dr Cocksworth said: “The Church is here for all people, and those who find themselves in same-sex relationships and have committed to those, the Church treats those people with respect, with compassionate attention, with care and with prayer. The exact form of that prayer will depend on the case itself, the situation that is before the pastor.”
The document itself does not restate the ban on blessing same-sex relationships, but Dr Cocksworth said that the “well-designed accommodations” it mentions were “different from formal public blessings”. The press release accompanying the report states: “The document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone…”
A further version of this report is in this week’s Church Times with the headline Marriage is a gift, ‘but not if you’re gay’.
Independent Outgoing Bishop of Liverpool wants ban lifted on same-sex partnership blessings and the ITV report on which this is based is here: Church of England conducting blessings for gay couples.