Thinking Anglicans

Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 (revised)

TA readers may recall that back in June 2011, a document was published by the Church of England, which was numbered GS Misc 992 entitled Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010. We reproduced the full text of this document here at the time and it attracted some comment then.

In fact the identical document had been leaked to the Guardian newspaper the previous month when it attracted quite a lot of media comment.

Today, the Church of England released a new document, numbered GS Misc 1044, which is described as an update to the earlier one, but whose content is in some respects quite different. The cover note observes that the update has been made to take account of the decision taken by the House of Bishops in December in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate.

We reported on that in House of Bishops decisions taken in December, and then again here, and finally, when in January the Church of England eventually issued a press release, in Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE.

The new document is now reproduced in full here.

The old document is still available here, and readers may find it instructive to look at the two side by side.

PDF originals are here (old), and then here (new).

John Bingham has written today in the Telegraph about this document, see Archbishops to ask clergy: ‘Are you having gay sex?’

Update Friday 21 June
Today, Gavin Drake reports on this for the Church Times in Assurances of celibacy may not be enough to qualify for a bishopric.

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Craig NelsonFr Alan-BuryJeremy PembertonRosemary Hannahrjb Recent comment authors
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Karen MacQueen+
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Karen MacQueen+

More retro, smarmy thinking from the August prelates of the Church of England. Clearly, according to this paper, they have little or no intention of implementing the Equality Act, according to its purposes.They are busy carving out loopholes that any bishop can drive a bulldozer through. One must try to imagine Justin having Jeffrey John to tea and inquiring if Jeffrey is still celibate for life. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Funny if it weren’t patently homophobic. What of the provision by which a bishop on the CNC can veto a priest in a civil partnership, preventing his nomination to… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Archbishops to ask clergy: ‘Are you having gay sex?’

“Yes, m’Lord, my husband and I are, intimately, very, VERY happy together” [how I want to see this question answered—if not w/ a stone-cold stare]

Sister Mary
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Sister Mary

JCF – alternatively –

“My Lord, have you stopped beating your wife?”

rjb
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rjb

Oh God, how utterly degrading. Not just for the gay bishops-to-be, but for all of us. If this is what progress in the Church of England looks like, then I’m happy to be stuck in the past, when the sex lives of clerics were politely and studiously ignored.

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

I have said it before, and will again, that the best tactic is for all clergy of good will to gratuitously inform the bishops in unnecessary detail of what they get up to in bed, be said clergy gay or straight. Only in the idiocy of such embarrassment will the vile vile vile inquisition be seen for what it is.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

Strangely, I think that there is a glimmer of light in this fairly dispiriting and typical C of E document. Here’s why: 1. It brackets divorced and gay clergy together. Now we all know that the C of E has stopped having any real problem with divorced clergy or clergy married to divorced people years ago. So bracketing like this is only going to weaken any sense that we should have any real problem with gay clergy either. 2. It does not assume that partnered gay clergy cannot be persons of “godly life”, nor, indeed, a “focus for unity” per… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

My first reaction was one of pure horror at such an idea, then I thought I’d follow Jeremy Pemberton in seeing things sunny side up.

There are some positive aspects.

Firstly this arrangement may allow for openly gay bishops. This in itself is a positive step.

Secondly the indignity of the interrogation will eventually prove too repellant to enforce. I also agree with an article written by Giles Fraser on this matter a few weeks back.

Such an undignified and unworthy line of questioning does not deserve an honest answer, whereby one becomes complicit in one’s own and others oppression.

Fr Alan-Bury
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Fr Alan-Bury

Going over the previous material which includes a legal opinion, i understand that there are good grounds to say that asking people in civil partnerships (and soon marriage ) what sexual contact they have WITHIN THAT RELATIONSHIP, is unlawful.

It is a clear breach of Article 8 that guarantees certain important rights for us all.
http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrights/the-human-rights-act/the-convention-rights/article-8-right-to-respect-for-private-and-family-life.html

So I have no idea how the lawyers who have produced this document can advocate bishops breaking the law along these lines.

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

It is precisely because the Church of England is outside the scope of the European Convention on Human Rights that it can and does infringe this and other principles of the Convention. It is simply not bound by the document. Hence why the ECHR will never require the CofE to marry or allow the marriage of same sex couples. On the other hand – whilst not obliged to follow the Convention one might think that if the Anglican Communion has endorsed and supported human rights then there would be some importance attached to voluntarily adhering to such principles. For example… Read more »