Friday, 19 April 2013

Church Times: marriage report published earlier than planned

The Church Times has an article by Madeleine Davies headlined Committee member writes alternative marriage paper.

Much of the article is devoted to summarising that paper, which TA readers will already have seen here. But the article also contains some additional information:

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Methuen said that the article was published “as a contribution to the current debate”. The Commission’s paper was published a month earlier than originally planned, so that the publication of the two coincided.

The Commission’s paper was a response to its task to produce “a theological justification of the Church of England’s current position. This is obviously something very different from what my own piece is doing,” Dr Methuen said. “There is always a balance to be struck between the views of the individual members of the Commission, and the work the Commission produces…

And this:

…On Monday, the Revd Thomas Seville CR, a member of the Commission, said that the report was “as clear as it could be” on the question of what it refers to as “accommodations” for same-sex couples.

“The issue of producing a report in soundbites, which has its temptations, is that you end by giving people something superficial. ‘Well-designed accommodation’ is a good one, it leaves things open which we should not really have been speculating on.” The Commission had been “mindful” of the fact that the Pilling Review, which is looking at the Church’s approach to sexuality, is due to report: “We did not want to be messing up their patch,” he said.

The Commission had been “very concerned not to make judgements or condemnation about other forms of relating, but we were stating positively what the Church of England actually taught.” There was much discussion of the FAOC paper, but it was agreed that it should be sent on to the House of Bishops Standing Committee, and then to the House of Bishops.” Fr Seville said he hoped that the Commission would look at the issues raised in Dr Methuen’s paper in the future…

The article does not explain why the report was published a month earlier than planned.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 8:36am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Is it fair to say that technically Dr Methuen broke the rules by publishing her minority report before the FaOC report?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 10:26am BST

Some very sharp reporting from Madeleine Davies in the last couple of weeks.

As has been said, there are several others who are members of the Commission who do not share the views expressed in the report.

We should do all we can to mobilise them, some are very apathetic, and get them to hit the keyboards! I get very frustrated at these clerics with their jobs at Oxford and Cambridge, who tell you how terrible it is to see the CofE hostage to fundamentalist evangelicals, but who will not put their head above the parapet!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 11:13am BST

"The Commission had been “very concerned not to make judgments or condemnation about other forms of relating..." Who do they think they're kidding? "other forms of relating?"

The report was a poorly contrived mess of bad history and worse theology. That would have been bad enough without the condescension towards LGBTI couples, which the writer here repeats in defending the report.

Apparently today the Archbishop of Canterbury will begin again a process of listening to LGBTI persons, a promise made at Lambeth in 1998 and more honored in the breach than in the keeping.

I would love to be surprised that these meetings will lead to positive change However,I am not hopeful. When only one sitting bishop in the Church of England is willingly to call publicly for change and vicars are notable for discreet silence, what is there to hope for? The other side of this argument in the CofE and the Anglican Communion threatens schism. You don't stand down such a threat or engage in serious dialogue with silence.

Let's pray that I am wrong.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 11:55am BST

No, I don't think so. The modus operandi of FAOC (or in the past of FOAG) has not included any expectation that individual members would be silent about their position on the documents published by the Commission. And in my view, this document is not a minority report anyway.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 11:58am BST

I think my point is this - she has every right to say what she does think, but she should have waited to do so until the same time as the FaOC released their report seeing as she was part of the group that created it and that her piece interacts with it.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 1:22pm BST

Has the bishop of Salisbury gone native?
Are there any reliable reports?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 2:19pm BST

Peter Ould, the answer to your 'query' is, "No".

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 7:39pm BST

Peter Ould, I believe you are missing the primary point here. Are you telling us that a baptised Christian has a first duty to a sinful, ignorant, ill timed document that has brought disgrace upon the CofE and insulted many? I for one believe that those who speak out against this document do so in the power of the Holy Spirit - a timeless Spirit. I suggest you and others read how many times the disciples were prevented from accompanying each other. It is no bad thing in some circumstances. In the opinion of many Thinking Anglicans this is one such circumstance -regretable - Yes, necessary - Yes and obviously.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 8:53pm BST

I'm not quite sure what Peter Ould is saying as the official report was published on 10th April and Charlotte Methuen's was published on 12th April.

Posted by: RosalindR on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 11:25pm BST

I think Peter Ould's concern about the timing of publication of Dr. Methuen's incisive jottings about Marriage - as compared with that of the FAOC - is of no consequence. The fact is that one of the members of the commission did not agree with its findings. That needed to be known by as many Anglicans as possible.

Furthermore, the theological implications of Dr. Methuen's remarks are too important to have been dismissed by the Commission, and ought to be the subject of a further enquiry about the aims of the Commission to stifle further debate on a subject that seems to have been pushed under the carpet.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 11:29am BST

You know, the more the opponents of marriage equality try to justify their position, the more they suggest that they regard marriage as a zero-sum game, or a limited resource.

They seem to assume that there is only so much of this thing called marriage to go around. God only has so much of this sacrament to give us, you see. His supply is limited.

This being so, we cannot spend some of our limited supply of marriage on gay people, because that would mean that we have less of it for straight people. And goodness knows that straight people need all the support they can get when they marry. Therefore....

It almost follows -- if you look at marriage as a scarce commodity, rather than a sacrament for all.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 1:27pm BST

'On Monday, the Revd Thomas Seville CR, a member of the Commission, said that the report was “as clear as it could be” on the question of what it refers to as “accommodations” for same-sex couples.'

Please do not bother on my account. I have had a neckful of being patronised by 'the Church'.

And most gay and lesbian people are even less impressed by you, than I.

In fact, they are not listened at all. I am not too far behind them, myself.

Why wopuld 'same sex couples' be intersted in this complacent and unimpressive verbiage and special-pleading ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 1:26am BST

“The issue of producing a report in soundbites, which has its temptations, is that you end by giving people something superficial. "

Yes. Why go to all that trouble when the report was superficial to begin with?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 8:50am BST


Thoughtful words. However unintended, they make a great case for plural marriage too. The more, the merrier!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 12:14pm BST

Karen I do think you are being a little unfair about clergy. There are some very brave souls out there speaking on behalf of what many of us think and practice.....and I thank God for them. I do agree the bishops are very disappointing but there have been some prophets amongst them who have put their heads above the parapet ...Richard Harris, Alan Wilson, David Jenkins, Peter Selby, Martin Wharton, Barry Rogerson, John Saxbee, Mike Bourke...the problem is that "ambition" is very neutralizing.

Posted by: Robert Ellis on Monday, 22 April 2013 at 11:39am BST

The Scottish Episcopal Church just came out with a document that is far better. It acknowledges the wide range of views. It also describes marriage and LGBT people as a pastoral matter. It's certainly kinder, more thoughtful, and describes a sense of journey and process, as opposed to CoE's authoritarian nonsense.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 April 2013 at 5:32pm BST

I wish, but the document I think you are referring to has been produced by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, not be the SEC.

Posted by: Kennedy on Monday, 22 April 2013 at 7:53pm BST

No, Kennedy, I was referring to the one in this article:

It's from the Scottish Episcopal Church. The full version is here:

I've nibbled, rather that devoured it. It seems more considered and more of an exploration. I have seen different readings and translations of Paul. Nonetheless, this report is just simply more honest, and that's a breath of fresh air.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 4:11am BST

TA will have a separate article about both Scottish documents soon. Please save your comments on them until then.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 7:58am BST
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