Thinking Anglicans

A Critique of the House of Bishops Pastoral Statement

Benny Hazlehurst has written Why the Bishops have got it wrong…

As the first same-sex marriages are conducted in England and Wales, much of the country is celebrating with the happy couples, but there are a significant group of LGB&T people who are being excluded from that joy by the Church of England.

The Bishops’ Valentine’s Day guidance on same-sex marriage was a shock to the vast majority of LGB&T clergy in the Church of England.

While apparently being magnanimous to lay people who get married to someone of the same gender, offering ‘pastoral provision’ for informal prayers and full access to the sacraments, the guidance also prohibited existing clergy in same-sex partnerships from getting married and said that it would not ordain anyone in a same-sex marriage.

At the stroke of a pen, it reintroduced a prohibition on marriage for some priests in the CofE, opened the gates to ecclesiastical guerrilla warfare in dioceses, and further distanced the House of Bishops from a substantial proportion of their clergy and people, not to mention the population at large…

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Concerned Anglican
Concerned Anglican
6 years ago

No wonder they are running out of suitable male candidates for the bench of bishops. No priest with any integrity would be willing to join them given what they have done with their guidance.

Father Ron Smith
6 years ago

“To most people this will sound unremittingly cruel. Knowing that the law allows you to get married but that the church you are called to minister in is both denying you that right and requiring you to respond to others is both cruel and unjust. For some it will feel akin to being a midwife who is prohibited by her employer from having children.” – Benny Hazlehurst – While I deeply empathize with Benny’s statement here, one must recognize that this is the same expectation that the Roman Catholic Church has for its own clergy. However, the Church of England… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
6 years ago

Hazlehurst has completely demolished the soi-disant “pastoral statement.”

House of Bishops or House of Groupthink?

Father David
Father David
6 years ago

Of course, an easy solution to all this would be to follow Rome’s lead and reintroduce a celibate priesthood with regard to all future ordinations (but if we are anxious about a shallow pool of suitable episcopal candidates then this idea might greatly reduce the number of future candidates for the priesthood!).Alternatively, we could emulate Byzantium and only choose bishops from the monasteries. After all one of Justin’s better ideas is the revival of a renewed and reinvigorated Religious life.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
6 years ago

The one thing I would add to Benny’s brilliant post is that lay people have also been slapped by the statement that says, in effect “we can’t expect the riff raff in the pews to be moral so we only expect morality of the clergy. We may consider allowing priests to pray for a gay couple but not until they’ve also told them that their relationship falls short of what the church expects.”

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
6 years ago

If you want a really devastating critique of the HofB statement watch the recent episode of Rev on the BBC Iplayer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04066tn/Rev._Series_3_Episode_2/

It says everything that needs saying, and what is more it speaks to middle England, not the little self selecting group that reads blogs like this and TA.

Simon

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
6 years ago

A withering critique! Just read Ed Power’s intro to his review of Our Gay Wedding. The Musical to understand how deep the problem is for the Church ….. “Surely not even the most passionate advocate of minority rights could have predicted the outflow of joy that accompanied the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales at the weekend. Outside a major international sporting triumph, it is difficult to think of an event that has lifted the national mood so markedly. It’s as if the public feels compelled to share in the happiness as gay and lesbian couples are finally… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
6 years ago

Quite right, quite right! Erica.

Riff raff, the lot of them. Not to be relied on, don’t you know.
Don’t know what’s good for them, poor benighted peasants.

Quite right!

Nathaniel Brown
Nathaniel Brown
6 years ago

While digging the C of E into a hole, the bishops have just called for more shovels. One wonders if the hole might be just in time for a grave…

Martyn Percy
Martyn Percy
6 years ago

This article shows – as recent critiques from Linda Woodhead and Mike Higton have also done – that the Valentines Day Pastoral Letter is lacking in theological clarity, ecclesial wisdom and socio-cultural awareness. It also lacks a legal deafness, and may expose the church to further problems at a later stage; or sooner. It would sensible – as well as morally courageous – to withdraw the letter, and to ask for time out to consider a better response to the issues that the changes in legislation now pose of the church, and for Christian teaching on marriage. And then, perhaps,… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
6 years ago

“It’s as if the public feels compelled to share in the happiness as gay and lesbian couples are finally permitted walk down the aisle.” I was talking about this to a colleague this afternoon. It occurred to me afterwards that one possible explanation would be that most people, when you get down to it, never cared that much about homosexuality. People vaguely disapproved of it because that was the societal expectation, but in the end no more than that. So when society shows that it’s OK to think it’s OK, there’s the lifting of a weight, and weddings are nice… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
6 years ago

What a pity we overseas Anglicans are not privy to what I am sure is the excellent BBC video link provided by Simon Dawson. Is this another sign of our detachment from Mother Church?

Only joking. BUT it would be good if the BBC were to be a little more welcoming.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
6 years ago

Ineterested Observer – you wrote “It occurred to me afterwards that one possible explanation would be that most people, when you get down to it, never cared that much about homosexuality. People vaguely disapproved of it because that was the societal expectation, but in the end no more than that. So when society shows that it’s OK to think it’s OK, there’s the lifting of a weight, and weddings are nice aren’t they?” I think you are close to the target, but not an exact bulls-eye. I would argue that in the past there was a strong negative view, but… Read more »

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