First, there are two reports so far of a London press conference yesterday about GAFCON, and it appears there may be a third one to come in the Church Times.
The Telegraph reported it this way: Church facing divide over blessings for same-sex couples
The Church of England is facing a split over proposals to offer a formal blessing for gay couples.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, warned on Tuesday that a move to celebrate same-sex relationships in church would be a “red line” for traditionalist parishes.
Clergy and lay members of the Church opposed to any relaxation of the rules could reject the authority of any bishops who supported the move, he warned…
The Guardian commented on it this way: It started as a split over gay clergy. But now the Anglican Communion is dead.
What, you gave a schism and nobody came? When six people hold a press briefing and three journalists attend, you know the story is over, and on Tuesday morning that is what happened when the evangelical wing of the Church of England announced – yet again – its plans to rebel against any open accommodation with gay people.
There were two retired bishops. There were three vicars and one of their wives. They talked to three journalists for an hour about their experiences at a conference of conservative Anglicans, called Gafcon, which met in Nairobi last week. This was set up as a protest against the reluctance of the official Anglican Communion to expel the Americans (who pay for it) as a punishment for their enthusiasm for openly gay clergy.
Once upon a time, this would have been a story. We heard threats to withhold money from the central bodies of the Church of England, threats to ignore the authority of other bishops, threats of defections to their grouping from the mainstream of opinion here. All these things will no doubt happen, as they have been happening in a small way for the past 20 years. What’s new is that no one any longer cares. The split has happened, and it turns out not to matter at all…
The Telegraph report refers to a blog post by Peter Ould concerning the contents of the forthcoming Pilling Report. That can be found here: The Path After Pilling.
I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal. Whilst the committee will not recommend adapting our services of Holy Matrimony to include same-sex marriages, I am led to understand that it will propose a formal rite that will provide an alternative for those in a formal same-sex union (Civil Partnership or Marriage) on the basis that we cannot presume such a relationship is sexual. Once that happens we will have formally declared same-sex unions to be holy. In the Church of England our liturgy is our doctrine and the moment we have a rite that in any way affirms same-sex relationships then we will have fundamentally changed what we believe…
Arun Arora has commented about this on Twitter, see Response from Church of England:
@thechurchmouse @PeterOuld @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham its pure nonsense. all drafts to date have recommended against liturgy for these.
@PeterOuld @thechurchmouse @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham Also final draft is not written so your blog -whilst a good read-is pure conjecture
Colin Coward has a blog article too: Is Pilling going to recommend the blessing of gay relationships?
Update 3 pm
And today, the Church of England has issued this statement: Pilling Commission on human sexuality. The full text is copied below the fold.
Pilling Commission on human sexuality
30 October 2013
Statement from William Fittall, Secretary General of the General Synod and Archbishops’ Council, placing recent media and blog speculation in context:
“At last Friday’s Synod press conference a national journalist asked me to confirm the now widely held story that the Pilling Group on human sexuality had been scrapped. I said that, on the contrary, the Group was still meeting and was due to complete its report in time for the House of Bishops to consider it at its meeting in December.
“Then on Monday a clergyman posted a blog saying: “I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal.” Our Communications Office responded to this by saying that, on the contrary, “the final draft of the Pilling report has not yet been completed or signed off.”
“In relation to these and any other claims it is important to be clear that the Pilling group cannot be expected to provide a running commentary on a report that it is still working on. In addition, the House of Bishops is in no position to say anything about a report that it has yet to receive, still less study. Since no one can know at this point what the report will eventually say, such claims are simply speculation.
“It is also important to recall that when the House of Bishops established the review in July 2011 it did so because it wished “…to offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. Our intention is to produce a further consultation document …” The Pilling report will be a report to the House of Bishops and it will then be for the House to decide, in the light of the report, what proposals and process of consultation it wishes to launch.”