Tuesday, 17 June 2008

archbishops issue statement about London church service

from Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe

Tuesday 17th June 2008

For immediate use

Joint statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York regarding St Bartholomew-the-Great

“We have heard the reports of the recent service in St Bartholomew the Great with very great concern. We cannot comment on the specific circumstances because they are the subject of an investigation launched by the Bishop of London.

On the general issue, however, the various reference points for the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality (1987 Synod motion, 1991 Bishops’ Statement- Issues in Human Sexuality- , Lambeth motion 1:10, House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships) are well known and remain current.

Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

ENDS

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 2:41pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

In the light of this, can someone confirm whether these "teachings" have authority, and whether "guidelines" were not followed or actual rules broken?

Leaving all the political posturing aside, how much freedom does a priest have here?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 3:03pm BST

A lucid and robust response.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 3:24pm BST

'House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships'

...so Richard Coekin and co who engaged in illegal and irregular ordinations was similarly not at liberty to disregard official positions I presume. Does anybody remember how he was disciplined? I seem to recall something like 'don't let it happen again' and I guess the same will happen to Martin Dudley - though the seriousness of the breach was far graver in the case of Coekin and co.

Posted by: Neil on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 3:31pm BST

Yes, lucid robust and terse !

I see it for the back covering devise it is.

Does anyone know that the C of E board of Pensions has a section on Civil Partnerships in its Clergy Pensions booklet ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 4:05pm BST

Fairly cautious comment I would have thought - a light rap over the knuckles. But then a) they don't want to be seen pre-judging +Richard's "investigation", and b) they do want to put something out to get all the "what does that woolly bearded man in Lambeth think he is doing?!" conservatives off ++Rowan's back. To do it with media-luvvie ++Sentamu is clever. I think this will do the job - but it doesn't actually tell us much.

And I think Erica's point about the STATUS of C of E policy on sexual ethics in general and gay ethics in particular is telling. I remember, as a diocesan assessor of potential ordinands, that more stress was laid on the questioning of potential candidates over their own acceptance of Lambeth 1:10 than there was on their belief in the Catholic Creeds. That alone, surely, tells us that we have lost the plot in all this somewhere!

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 4:25pm BST

"can someone confirm whether these "teachings" have authority, and whether "guidelines" were not followed or actual rules broken?"

And, given the HOB motion coming to the July Synod re women bishops, can someone clarify whether a Code of Practice is "guidelines" or "rules"??

Posted by: David Malloch on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 4:44pm BST

"Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

Says the bishop who knowingly ordained a practicing homosexual. Pot, kettle, black.

Posted by: MJ on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 5:03pm BST

Comment deleted.

Posted by: Anonymous on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 5:09pm BST

Erika,
Was this service one of holy communion (and thus allowed by canon, even if mistakes were made in its conduct) or a service of blessing for a homosexual relationship / couple?
The former is a form of service allowed by canon, the latter isn't.
It is however not prohibited by canon law and is therefore less serious than say benediction which is a form of service prohibited by canon.
Perhaps a few Bishops should beware participating in benediction.
Asking the vicar in question not to offer such blessings (or saying he would be grateful if the vicar didn't offer such blessings) might be indicative that the ordinary had no powers to order...
(Or has better things to spend the legal fees on...)
Can anyone remember Tom Wright's ad clerum on the subject?
While it seemed menacing I don't remember legal action being mentioned...
Simon can you remember?

Posted by: dodgyvicar on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 5:33pm BST

"Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

There goes the Reformation then...

Posted by: Simon on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 5:36pm BST

"There goes the Reformation then..."

But surely the Reformation was a necessary evil with, in every place, far more evil than necessary. This current debate highlights some of the errors of the Reformation that even we, whose reformation was more conservative than most, are still suffering from today.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 6:54pm BST

I think they are at liberty to think as they wish and to tell the leadership of the church what a sickening bunch of bigots they are.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 6:55pm BST

The commendable thing about this statement is that it adds nothing to the status of the various "reference points" the Church has tortuously and unnecessarily burdened itself with in recent years. I think it is significant that "reference points" is the major way in which they are referred to ("Church's teaching" in para 3 shouldn't be read as synonymous with the "reference points" in para 2).

Finally(!) we have a politically astute statement from the two ABs, which should prevent the Bartholomew the Great service from becoming ammunition in the puritans' attacks on the whole church.

Posted by: Justin (3MinuteTheologian) on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 7:11pm BST

This statement would have a lot more credibility if it weren't for three little words that make it complete hypocrisy:

Remember Jeffrey John.

Posted by: MrsBarlow on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 7:51pm BST

They forgot to mention how Jesus was certainly free to disagree with the money changers in the temple but (as it was accepted policy approved by the religious leaders of the day) he was not free to chase the money changers out of the temple. No, Jesus should not have seen himself at liberty to act as he did. He was free to think that the religious leaders of the day were wrong but he had no right to upset the established order. Established order first and foremost.

And while we are at it, eating with tax collecters and harlots and picking grains on the sabbath. All against the established order. Why, if someone were not careful and happened to read the gospels they might even come to the conclusion that Jesus was more interested in justice and mercy than in following the rules of the established order.

Well, just because Jesus felt that he was at liberty to disregard religious rules which contradicted justice and mercy doesn't mean that anyone else should!

Posted by: Dennis on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 8:53pm BST

"Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed."

But isn't this precisely what was done?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 9:07pm BST

"Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

Sometimes the only way to convince a hardened heart is to go ahead and do what they are hardened against, proving to them that the world will not end when it happens.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 9:28pm BST

I suppose this service was the only one of its kind ever to have occured in the C of E, right? Or was it the object of arch-episcopal tut-tuttery because it was public and got a lot of press coverage?

Remember, the ABC likes gays OK, and will even celebrate Eucharist with them, as long as it happens in a nice gothic closet and someone eats the invitation list.

And when do we get arch-episcopal tut-tuttery over the various episcopoi vagrantes [or in good old Ammurican, vagrant or hobo bishops]?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 9:30pm BST

The Book of Acts (and other parts of the New Testament) spring to mind.

The authorities' priests deprived the early Christians of witness, allowed witness but then tried to coral its direction to gain the points (remember Jesus' contempt and the Caesar coin manipulation), actually chased souls out of towns with stones (depriving witness not only with their buildings but also from the public streets), and engineered souls assassinations.

How are these priests any different from those who persecuted the early church and denied grace to others both before, during and after the church's inception?

Fortunately God has ways of bypassing wasteful shepherds who push and shove the weak to the margins and then attempt to claim all the fields so there are no resources for others.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 9:54pm BST

Lucid it was but robust it wasn't. It's like living in an in between world, forever not one thing nor another, but the edifice is crumbling. It could just be that when the histories get written (I'm smiling to myself because a church group discussed history this evening) that this service will be seen as a fine symbolic signpost on the way to something we will come to regard as second nature. and commonplace

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 10:25pm BST

Yes it's a no!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 10:30pm BST

This is a welcome statement by the Archbishops, who are men of the highest integrity.

Posted by: Audrey on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 10:50pm BST

The more I see of the CofE, the more I love TEC. Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 11:05pm BST

What God has joined together let no man put asunder...

We hear a lot about "religious conscience" these days. With its faithful adherence to Scripture, tradition and reason, painstakingly prepared, nothing about the Order of Service could be construed as remotely "secularist", so we shall see whether participants' religious conscience is respected in the investigation.

Those screaming "Off with their frocks!" might take some comfort from this joint statement. But if the Church's teaching needs to be revised in the light of the Listening Process at Lambeth, any accusations of "disregarding" the Church's teaching will look a little harsh.

Dr Sentamu was right to say in a recent lecture that "Organised religion is always ambiguous". This certainly applies to the assortment of "reference points for the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality".

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 11:06pm BST

Robert Ian Williams: "Yes it's a no!"

Did you think of that comment yourself or did you shamelessly steal it off the front of an issue of Private Eye last autumn commenting on Gordon Brown and the snap election which he didn't call?

;)

Posted by: BIGDAN on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 9:31am BST

This is a welcome statement by the Archbishops, who are men of the highest integrity.

Posted by: Audrey on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 10:50pm BST

Yes, men of two very different integrities !

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 11:57am BST

"Well, just because Jesus felt that he was at liberty to disregard religious rules which contradicted justice and mercy doesn't mean that anyone else should!"

Indeed! There's an awful lot of "WWJD" going around these days. It tends to help us forget that none of us is God Incarnate, which is, I think, somewhat the point.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 12:57pm BST
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