The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Province of the West Indies have issued a Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions.
The full text of this statement is copied below the fold. The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement:
The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) have stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds. And they have urged leaders of government, civil society, and the people of the English-speaking Caribbean “to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.”
In a statement issued on April 25 from their meeting at the Provincial Secretariat at Bamford House in Barbados, the Bishops and Standing Committee noted trends in developed nations and the international forums in which these nations exercise control “in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.” The statement further noted that frequently, failure by developing nations to conform, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.
However the Bishops and Standing Committee cautioned that “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”
While acknowledging the diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean region, they noted that these have been understood by Caribbean people to be between a man and a woman. The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage.
The House of Bishops includes some 23 Bishops (in service and retired) from the eight Dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean, who meet twice a year to reflect on issues concerning the mission of the Anglican Church in the Region. The Standing Committee comprises clergy and laity elected to represent their Dioceses at the Provincial Synod which meets every three years. The last Provincial Synod was hosted by the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands in November 2012.
The eight Dioceses in the CPWI are: The Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.
Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions
April 25, 2013
The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies meeting at Bamford House in Barbados extend greetings to the faithful of the Province and the leaders of our nations charged with responsibility for governance.
In the course of our deliberations we have taken note of the fact that our nations are facing serious economic and social challenges which are currently taxing the human and material resourcefulness of our peoples, a situation complicated by developments in the global economy.
We have taken note also of trends within countries of the developing world and international forums, and in which these countries exercise a controlling interest, in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally. Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.
More specifically, there is a re-definition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female. Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex. The “marriage” of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.
While we acknowledge that there is a diversity of family patterns within our Caribbean region, these have been understood by our people to be between a man and a woman, whether defined in terms of the natural order of creation or on the basis of religious beliefs which see these grounded in the purpose of God.
We reaffirm marriage as “a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”. (1) Characteristic of our patterns of cohabitation and family life is the notion that such unions are based on a relationship between a man and a woman. The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds.
While we recognize that the role of the Church and the State are not the same, the Church’s task being distinctly different from the State, the Church’s mandate is informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage, and in solemnizing such unions. The governments have the responsibility of providing the kind of legal framework for protecting, but not defining, this most basic social institution on which the stability of society and the socialization of its members rest, as well as protecting the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.
We are conscious of the fact that our political leaders within our Caribbean region are being subjected to pressures from nations and institutions from outside of our region. Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid. We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters. The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.
The threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences for us, neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past. While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage.
1. Civil Partnerships: A Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, 2005, para 2.