Friday, 4 January 2013

Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE - 2

Before today’s press release which was issued at 5pm (see preceding article) this topic had been reported on by the Church Times this morning, and also covered in this earlier TA article, dated 28 December.

This morning’s Church Times article: Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics by Ed Thornton.

…Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).

The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson’s group.

The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.

This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops…

This news report was updated at 5 pm to include the press release statement from the Bishop of Norwich.

Subsequently, there have been numerous media reports:

Guardian Peter Walker Church of England rules gay men in civil partnerships can become bishops and
at Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay bishops ruling makes Church of England’s position more coherent

BBC CofE drops opposition to gay bishops in civil partnerships and
Gay bishop announcement ‘laughable’, says priest and
Gay bishops: Peter Tatchell urges Jeffrey John appointment

Telegraph Sam Marsden Anglican church lifts ban on gay men in civil partnerships becoming bishops

Independent Jerome Taylor Gay bishops allowed – but they can’t have sex and
A gay bishop might be the painful medicine the Anglican Communion needs

Evening Standard Church of England paves way for gay bishops in civil partnerships and
Mixed response to gay bishop move

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 January 2013 at 10:56pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Jerome Taylor's header sums it up:

"Gay bishops allowed - but they can't have sex."

It's crazy.

You might as well say to all young couples who come to the church for a wedding, "We'll marry you but you can't have sex."

It's perverse, unnatural, and a disgusting discrimination.

It's like, well we'll stop discriminating you if you deprive your partner of intimate physical closeness - how unkind is that?

The headline just makes the church look laughable (again).

This is like the racism issue... the vast majority of society has just moved on. It's no longer acceptable to discriminate on grounds of race, and it's no longer acceptable to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation.

My friends just think this is ludicrous. To say to someone, as some grand concession, well we'll tolerate your gayness if you actually don't do it.

What kind of toleration is that? It's just consolidating the discrimination in a more window-dressed way.

It's still vilifying the intimate and tender expressions of two people who love each other, and I just think most people will regard this as the Church doing the sinful thing, the unkind and unnatural thing, not the gay or lesbian partners.

It is the Church which is being perverted.

Or rather, one section of the church, because more and more people in this country are simply moving on with this issue and regard the Church as out of order.

I do too. I'm heterosexual but I have to disassociate with what is clear and explicitly stated homophobia.

Let all the married bishops go celibate as an act of humility and solidarity, and see how unnatural *their* partners find it.

They are stipulating perverted requirements.

Posted by: Susannah on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:40am GMT

Andrew Brown says of lifting the ban: 'It will upset the conservatives who really want gay people ashamed and frightened'

Really? Conservatives would hardly want to preserve the shameful and frightening menace of ineligibility for the office of bishop. Principally, because ineligibility for high church office holds little real menace (okay, the loss of a pay rise, influence, better premises and a new uniform are the key threats). No, if anything, conservatives believe the real menace lies on the other side of the grave.

Let's see the announcement for the capitulation to realpolitik that it is: a political peace offering of a 'Pretend To Ask, Don't Tell' policy from the sorely chastened leaders of the church. They are showing Parliament that they are now amenable to further negotiation (given the church-wide hostility towards conservatives after the Women Bishops measure was defeated), rather than a perpetuation of the current useless war of political attrition.

They are saying, 'You've misunderstood us. We can't be seen to *support* same-sex civil marriage', but we may ultimately become a useful ally in facilitating the conservative acceptance of same-sex marriage.'

In response, the government will drop the Fourth Lock that would forever prohibit the CofE from conducting same-sex marriages. It was only a decoy, anyway.

If the bishops approve of some civil partnerships on the presumption that they are celibate, expect, in years to come, that the liberal wing of the CofE hierarchy will commission religious blessings (based on that unverifiable personal assurances to the officiating priest) after same-sex marriage registration ceremonies (outside of the church). It's a religious sleight of hand.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 3:12am GMT

Thank goodness - after a decade of continuous martyrdom by and in the Press - Archbishop Rowan is no longer around to be whipping boy over this latest development - having packed his trunk and said "goodbye" to the circus.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 8:29am GMT

I think you can rest assured.
The requirement that bishops must not be civil partnered was only put in place in 2011 to stop Jeffrey John's possible elevation to Bishop of Southwark.
Even before then he could not be a bishop, ultimately because people said he could not be a focus of unity.
I still don't see any honesty in the CoE's conversations about human relationships and so I still don't see any hope that any openly gay priest will become bishop in this church any time soon.

But if he did and if you're right that this would eventually lead to an acceptance of same sex marriage, then you might just have to accept that your church has changed its mind and that it no longer believes that the only Christian approach is to marginalise people and to assign them a lower moral status.
I'm not holding out much hope for that level of honesty.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 9:43am GMT

Perhaps this decision is a further result of that "very stormy meeting" that took place in November between parliamentarians and bishops?

How interesting too that this decision was taken on December 10 and 11, but announced clearly only in January, and on a Friday evening at that. (Friday evening being the strategic time to announce something parlous.)

Do I mis-read matters, or is this announcement one more blow at Dr. Williams as he heads out the door to hail his cab for Paddington Station? Make the decision in December, but wait to announce it until Dr. Williams is no longer in office and cannot respond, as it were, from the throne?

Looks as though the bishops of the Church of England want the church to be -- wait for it -- "of England."

Not of Uganda. Nor of Rome.

Dr. Welby, take note.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:57pm GMT
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