Monday, 28 February 2011

Civil Partnerships: Guardian editorial

The Guardian has published a strongly worded editorial, which criticises both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, for the public statements made by some of their leaders.

Read it (and follow the excellent links) at Civil partnerships: bluster in bad faith.

The heart sinks at the prospect of another battle between faith and the state, in which the churches wring their hands and find themselves sustaining discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. But such a dispute has begun with the government’s confirmation that it plans to lift the total ban on holding civil partnership ceremonies in religious buildings. First, the Church of England warned of “unexplored impacts”, “confusion” and “difficult and unintended consequences for churches”. In sum, because the church can’t make up its mind, everyone else ought to hold back. Now the Catholic church has joined the fray, railing against the proposal in even more strident terms…

It concludes with:

…This is a proposal which the Church of England – whose own bishops split on the issue in the Lords last year – should find unexceptional. Equality, one bishop claimed in that debate, is not the same as making the laws for everyone the same. But nor should the principles of some faiths be imposed on others. The blanket ban on religious institutions hosting partnership ceremonies is a lawful infringement of their liberty. It must be swept away. Doing that will not eradicate every ancient prejudice or protect everybody from them, it will merely give progressive believers the right to do things in new ways. As such, it will strengthen and not compromise freedom of conscience. Claims to the contrary are illogical bluster.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 8:10am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Hurrah for The Guardian's striking Editorial!

One can only hope that more British newspapers might weigh in on this apparent contradiction - between what the Church teaches about the preferred attitude of acceptance of committed, loving, faithful and monogamous homosexual relationships - and the apparent determined resistance to offering God's Blessing upon the same-sex partners within their own Church community.

This speaks of an underlying dichotomy between the duty of pastoral care of the LGBT community, and the fear of 'contamination' from such people, who happen to share the faith and sacraments of the Church with fellow believers. It begs the question: "When will the reality of same-sex relationships that already exist within the Church be allowed to be acknowledged and accepted by the Church for what they are - faithful monogamous relationships, and which could point the way for a similar faithful discipline among heterosexual partnerships.

Far from detracting from the tradition of hetero-sexual marriage, the acceptance by the Church of the reality of faithful, monmogamous same-sex relationships could be a good example, and should be equally embraced, in charity, by the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 9:08am GMT

Don't have a problem with any church refusing to bless commitments between any couple. Do have a problem with those same churches then trying to block all other access to acknowedged loving, nurturing relationships.

Churches can't claim to provide for some souls when they refuse to provide for same souls. How can they claim to support a god of love and peace, when they continue to refuse to give love and peace?

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 1:09pm GMT

Yes, liberty is being extended, which is why this religious provision is wanted (and why it should never have been denied).

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 1:27pm GMT

I am quite sure that God reads the Guardian too.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 6:16pm GMT

Good to see the Bishop of Newcastle (Guardian link) standing up for justice.

Posted by: John on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 6:26pm GMT

It was just politics that the ban was put in place. In Canada (where marriage is a state licence and you exercise it wherever you wish, in a five and dime store, who cares), churches are free to conduct any legal marriage they wish, and are not compelled to conduct marriages (of divorced persons, of same-sex couples) if they don't wish. End of story. We just got on with things. Given the plunging state of the British economy, it might be an idea to do the same there!

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 6:54pm GMT

It's a sad day for the CofE, when the Guardian editorial board shows more *Christian integrity* than does the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 7:27pm GMT

Randal's summary of the Canadian situation is accurate, but if I may offer one other small wrinkle.

In Saskatchewan, civil Marriage Commissioners are not allowed to use any religious material (scripture readings or prayers for example) in conducting a civil marriage. A religious wedding is a religious wedding. A civil wedding is a civil wedding.

The office of Marriage Commissioner is not merely religiously neutral, but explicitly required to be non-religious. Which was why recent attempts to give marraige commissioners a permanent out from having to do same sex marriages was a logical absurdity from the get go. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal (in a technically split decision) ruled against it - with the majority saying it was wrong and the dissenters saying it was totally wrong.

I'm not sure if the same pertains in other Canadian jurisdictions.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 9:10pm GMT
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