Thinking Anglicans

Reports and reactions to House of Bishops statement

Media reports:

Telegraph John Bingham Church offers prayers after same-sex weddings – but bans gay priests from marrying

Church Times Paul Handley No blessings, no same-sex marriages for clergy: Bishops keep the door shut as Act comes into force

Independent Lizzie Dearden Church of England offers prayers after gay weddings but no same-sex marriage for vicars

BBC Gay couple blessings ruled out by Church of England bishops

Diocesan statements:

Bishop of Manchester Bishop’s pastoral statement

Blogs:

Archbishop Cranmer House of Bishop’s same-sex dog’s breakfast

Bishop Alan Wilson We come in Peace — Shoot to Kill?

Changing Attitude Colin Coward House of Bishops prioritise discipline not love

Rachel Mann Personal Response to the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement

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Father David
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Father David

Never mind who is going to be the first female bishop, a more pressing question will surely be, who will be the first vicar to legally marry in a Register Office ceremony and what will his or her bishop do about it?

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Another hurtful statement from CoE bishops. Though I appreciate +David trying to walk a fine line to respond to real people and the needs expressed by his diocese.

So sad, really. It won’t be long before no one cares. The Letter is not the Good News. So the bishops credibility on the Good News is shot.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

How is this asinine “decision” different from Rome demanding celibacy? Deeply, deeply cruel and providing the breeding ground for endless misery. If one may quote Churchill, and a different context: “The Government [Church] simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister [Synod, Bishops] to make up his mind. So they go on in a strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years – precious, perhaps vital, to the greatness of Britain – for… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thank you, Bishop Alan, for ‘telling it like it is’. The duplicity of the House of Bishops is so evident here in their response to the Pilling Report. The statement that there will be no change in Anglican Doctrine of Marriage (or, presumably, on the question of Gay relationships), while yet trumpeting the ongoing ‘Facilitated Conversations’ seems, to many of us, hypocritical. What is the point on ongoing conversations about a situation that will never be changed. Homophobia Lives!

Helen
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Helen

If the bishops’ letter is a “generous witness to Jesus Christ”, l’m a banana.

Mike Homfray
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Mike Homfray

I think that what we need is a number of vicars prepared to defy the church and to go public big-time. The church would be the ones made to look daft and I think would have such a backlash that they would be forced to review what Welby already knows to be an unsustainable position

badman
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badman

I’m not sure that the Church of England has legal authority to stop clergy from entering into a lawful marriage. Let’s not forget that Long v Bishop of Cape Town (1863) 15 English Reports 756 establishes that: “canonical obedience does not mean that the clergyman will obey all the commands of the Bishop against which there is no law, but that he will obey all such commands as the Bishop by law is authorised to impose” (p.776) By what law is a Bishop authorised to impose a command that his clergy should not marry? Tobias Haller has pointed out, on… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Well, ‘Badman’, you have certainly (with Fr. Tobias Haller) put the cat among the pigeons on Article 32. However, how does that affect us moderns who do not account the 39 Articles to be part of the current polity of Anglican life?

Conversely, Article 32 could be a ‘let-out’ for the Con/Evos who don’t want Gay Marriage!!!

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“By what law is a Bishop authorised to impose a command that his clergy should not marry?” I suspect that when there are two definitions of marriage, the state’s and the church’s, it would require a test case to determine which is applicable. And that when attempting to use a past case as a precedent, there would be arguments about which definition that case related to. I don’t, obviously, say this to defend the nonsensical and hateful argument that the House of Bishops is advancing. But I think it is more likely that the position will change because the facts… Read more »

Bishop Cuthbert Heaver
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Bishop Cuthbert Heaver

I’m not in favour of the Government legislation that will come into effect next month but I think the Archbishops’ pastoral letter will perpetrate an injustice. Clergy promise to obey the Ordinary in all things “lawful and honest”. As the month of March dawns it will be perfectly lawful and legal for two people of the same gender to marry. The bishops by seeking to prevent clergy from enacting this legal right are surely depriving clergy from a privilege which all other citizens of this realm can enter into and thus, in effect, making those in holy orders who wish… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

If there was a disciplinary case, what legal standing would Article 32 have?

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Generous is one of those words no-one should ever say about themselves. Like loving, caring, kind etc. it is only ever something the recipients of the “generosity” can judge.
Calling yourself generous is a bit like someone calling themselves a Dear Leader.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

This is a hurtful, even cruel statement that on close examination doesn’t make sense and is the antithesis of anything pastoral. Once again the Church of England is saying ‘no’ to its people and enquirers. iI is also becoming dialectical i.e. defined by being against things, which is a long way from the liberating Gospel of the Jesus Christ who was always challenging the conventions of his time. Sadly, I suppose that what is happening here is expedient, a caving into conservative, largely evangelical, opinion in the Church. However, let’s be optimistic and look for a light at the end… Read more »

Mark
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Mark

To add to the point made by badman – the ‘Oath of Canonical Obedience’ made by Clergy to the Diocesan Bishop contains within it an important sub-clause “in all thing lawful and honest”… As entering into a Civil Marriage with someone of the same sex from the 29th March will be “lawful” one wonders how much mileage there will be in moving forward on these grounds…

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Is there any point in doing anything about this? I have signed the petition. But should I write to my Bishop, he already knows my views. Should I write to Lambeth Palace in order to get a meanigless answer from a bored apparatchick? Perhaps I should stand for diocesan or general synod on an agressively out, liberal and fully inclusve ticket and get heavily voted down by the unholy alliance of Anglo Catholics and Conservative women haters in the Chichester diocese. I was hoping to start winding down in a year or two, perhaps not just yet.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“[I]t is more likely that the position will change because the facts on the ground change (probably a serving minister entering into a same-sex marriage and daring the church to do something about it).” Exactly. There is power in the Church to force this issue and bring it to a right resolution. That power lies with vicars who choose to marry, as the law will soon allow. If the hierarchy tries to make a case of it, then the CofE will be in the very odd position of discouraging its clergy from marrying. At that point, the Church becomes a… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

Fear not Mike Homfray. I can almost guarantee (and that without having spoken to anybody else) that many many clergy, and in busy parishes as far as the occasional offices are concerned, will simply ignore this advice from bishops and get on with it. The moment of reality has arrived – same sex marriages will soon be celebrated – and leadership has been found wanting from the bishops. Meanwhile, many clergy will get on with blessings, and probably even the majority within 5 years.

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

Nice sentiments, Concerned Anglican, but I’ve borne patiently for long enough and I’ve no intentions of doing it for any longer.

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

I hesitate in adding to the comments contrasting TEC with CofE. But in states where same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S., many bishops are now requiring same-sex partners living together to get married (as well as some opposite-sex partners living together who refused to get married until marriage equality occurred). Their rationale is there is no longer a reason for them not to get married and Christian morality requires priests living in a romantic relationship with another to get married. This weekend I attended the marriage of a priest (a well-respected rector in this diocese) and his partner… Read more »

badman
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badman

“I suspect that when there are two definitions of marriage, the state’s and the church’s, it would require a test case to determine which is applicable. And that when attempting to use a past case as a precedent, there would be arguments about which definition that case related to.” The obvious precedent is Thompson v Dibdin in the House of Lords, in which Lord Loreburn says: “It is inconceivable that any Court of law should allow as a lawful cause the cohabitation of two persons whose union is directly sanctioned by Act of Parliament and is as valid as any… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

Just can’t get John 11:50 out of my head all day: “it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people”.

Andrew
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Andrew

Septuagesima and the countdown has already begun. Come Refreshment Sunday the first gay marriages in England and Wales will have already taken place, with hearts and hands and voices.

It stands to reason that partnered gay clergy will also be fixing a date . Isn’t it a moral obligation for them to do so, not for the sake of ecclesiastical reform, necessarily, but for the mutual society, help and comfort? Strength in numbers will see off any episcopal threat to a lifetime of marital bliss. Nobody wants the bad publicity of multiple Herefords, now do they?

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Quite. If I have this right, a person in a same sex marriage wishing to be ordained would first of all have to divorce (even if they were bringing up children) first in order to be considered – maybe the fact they were once married, even if they divorce in order to please the powers that be, would be enough to bar someone for ever from being ordained.

This is, at once, both silly and oppressive. A kind of incompetent Christian version of the Soviet Union.

Father David
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Father David

If the Dean of St. Albans decides not to marry then surely he must be given one of the many currently vacant bishoprics; after all he’s considerably brighter than the vast majority of the current Diocesans and would enlighten the Bench enormously. However, if on receiving his mitre he then decides to marry then that really would put the cat among the pigeons. How long ago was it that a bishop was suspended for “conduct unbecoming”?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

You are quite right, Father David. But how would the marriage of a gay bishop be any worse than, say the re-marriage of a divorced bishop – which has already happened? Or is that an entirely different moral proposition?

Pam Smith
Guest

As Erika says above: “Generous is one of those words no-one should ever say about themselves. Like loving, caring, kind etc. it is only ever something the recipients of the “generosity” can judge. Calling yourself generous is a bit like someone calling themselves a Dear Leader.” I’ve been thinking something similar about sacrifice. In the last few years, the HoB over the issues of women bishops and equal marriage, seem to have developed a bad habit of calling for the ministry of others to be limited for the ‘greater good’. I am completely unclear what this ‘greater good’ is meant… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

How very much Bishop Simon Phipps was ahead of his time when in 1980 he printed his thoughts on homosexuality in the Lincoln Diocesan Magazine. At the time this caused much distress within the diocese and beyond but this great pastoral bishop proved to be quite prophetic in what he wrote thirty four years ago.

Tobias Haller
Guest

So the question seems to revolve to some extent on the meaning of “lawful” in the phrase “all things lawful.” Is a pastoral direction, or even a direct admonition not to do something which is legal under the law of the state and not expressly forbidden under the law of the church, a “law.” Being an American I am not familiar with the intricacies of English law beyond knowing how intricate it is! So the questions are: Does this Pastoral Guidance have the force of law? Is there a canon or other actionable statement in place already forbidding a cleric… Read more »

John Roch
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John Roch

I was particularly struck by yesterday’s Gospel —

It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him
give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that
anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of
unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever
marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The CoE never changes its position on marriage?

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Mike: “I think that what we need is a number of vicars prepared to defy the church and to go public big-time.” Mike, you are right, but individually priests would be picked off. What is needed is the creation of an alliance of churches with a conscience on this issue. Collective action will be far more effective, and PCC’s of these churches should declare a form of UDI, where *they* will decide whether they wish to exercise conscience, and where they will resist any sacking or replacement, with all other PCCs in the alliance backing each other. Top down ‘imperium’… Read more »

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

Nothing will change in the CofE until the individual diocese are allowed to elect their own bishops. Bishops should never be appointed. It is ridiculous to assume that CofE bishops will do the right thing once “appointed” but it would change the landscape entirely if CofE bishops were locally elected by each diocese of lay and clergy members. The is a truly shameful moment in the life of the CofE.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

A reply to two “Smiths” – presumably not related. Chris, while I agree that appointing bishops in the arcane way that the C of E does makes less and less sense, I don’t think that such a welcome change would make any difference to the matter under debate. New Zealand bishops have been elected since the 1850s, but the policy outlined by the Cof E Bishops is essentially the same as the one operated by our bishops here. True, we are all waiting for the publication of our version of Pilling, entitled the Ma Whea? Commission, which must report before… Read more »

Brian Ralph
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Brian Ralph

Edward, Same-sex marriage has only been available in New Zealand for just on 6 months. We are all waiting to see what happens in May after the Me Whea? commission reports. Unfortunately it is very difficult to find out anything here. I am much more aware of what happens in Synod in England than in New Zealand. Hopefully the response in both anger and jest to the ridiculous statement by the Bishops in England might show our own synod/bishops what would be the result of a similar decision here. My own vicar will be at general synod in May. I… Read more »

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

Thanks for the correction, Ralph. you are of course correct that the change was less than one year ago.
My prediction, for what it is worth, is that General Synod will invent yet another innovative way to sit on the fence and do nothing. The response you suggest you plan to take is perfectly understandable.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Edward, though now a member of ACANZP, I was formed as a Christian by my Baptism and Confirmation in the Church of England. That is my basis of interest in the affairs of that Church. I realise that the Anglican Church in New Zealand at the moment is in a similar situation to that in England and Wales on this matter of Same-Sex Blessings/Marriage. However, ACANZP has had the benefit of recently appointing some younger bishops (including another female) who may better understand the real need of the Church to cherish its LGBTI membership. This, I hope, will lead to… Read more »

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

Ron I will be hoping alongside you, and praying with you that you are right. I know that pressure for change will come from some in my diocese, and from Waiapu and Dunedin, with support from some Tikanga Maori and Tikanga pasifika members. But I also know that your diocesan synod has asked that no change be made. While a Conservative/Evangelical motion is most unlikely to be successful, some formula that makes the fence a little more comfortable to sit on is a real possibility, and I will really feel for the Brian Ralphs of our Church (of whom there… Read more »

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

My apologies, Brian, for referring to you as “Ralph”. Ralph was my father’s middle name, so it has a place of honour in my subconscious as a Christian name.

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

Quite OK, 🙂 Edward, am use to it.

Turbulent priest
Guest
Turbulent priest

On the NZ point, please don’t imagine this is just a matter of getting younger people into senior posts. If he were still alive, I wonder where your former Archbishop and Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves would stand on this issue?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” I wonder where your former Archbishop and Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves would stand on this issue?” – Turbulent priest –

Certainly to my knowledge, he and I were on the same side in reference to voting down the Covenant. I believe Sir Paul Reeves was more pastorally understanding than most bishops in the Church on the issue of LGBT people. He probably would have understood the need, at least, for S/S/ blessings.