Tuesday, 30 April 2013

West Indies bishops issue statement on same-sex unions

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Province of the West Indies have issued a Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions.

The full text of this statement is copied below the fold. The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement:

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) have stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds. And they have urged leaders of government, civil society, and the people of the English-speaking Caribbean “to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.”

In a statement issued on April 25 from their meeting at the Provincial Secretariat at Bamford House in Barbados, the Bishops and Standing Committee noted trends in developed nations and the international forums in which these nations exercise control “in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.” The statement further noted that frequently, failure by developing nations to conform, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

However the Bishops and Standing Committee cautioned that “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”

While acknowledging the diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean region, they noted that these have been understood by Caribbean people to be between a man and a woman. The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage.

The House of Bishops includes some 23 Bishops (in service and retired) from the eight Dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean, who meet twice a year to reflect on issues concerning the mission of the Anglican Church in the Region. The Standing Committee comprises clergy and laity elected to represent their Dioceses at the Provincial Synod which meets every three years. The last Provincial Synod was hosted by the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands in November 2012.

The eight Dioceses in the CPWI are: The Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.

Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions
April 25, 2013

The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies meeting at Bamford House in Barbados extend greetings to the faithful of the Province and the leaders of our nations charged with responsibility for governance.

In the course of our deliberations we have taken note of the fact that our nations are facing serious economic and social challenges which are currently taxing the human and material resourcefulness of our peoples, a situation complicated by developments in the global economy.

We have taken note also of trends within countries of the developing world and international forums, and in which these countries exercise a controlling interest, in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally. Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

More specifically, there is a re-definition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female. Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex. The “marriage” of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.

While we acknowledge that there is a diversity of family patterns within our Caribbean region, these have been understood by our people to be between a man and a woman, whether defined in terms of the natural order of creation or on the basis of religious beliefs which see these grounded in the purpose of God.

We reaffirm marriage as “a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”. (1) Characteristic of our patterns of cohabitation and family life is the notion that such unions are based on a relationship between a man and a woman. The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds.

While we recognize that the role of the Church and the State are not the same, the Church’s task being distinctly different from the State, the Church’s mandate is informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage, and in solemnizing such unions. The governments have the responsibility of providing the kind of legal framework for protecting, but not defining, this most basic social institution on which the stability of society and the socialization of its members rest, as well as protecting the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.

We are conscious of the fact that our political leaders within our Caribbean region are being subjected to pressures from nations and institutions from outside of our region. Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid. We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters. The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.

The threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences for us, neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past. While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage.

Footnote
1. Civil Partnerships: A Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, 2005, para 2.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 8:22am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Benighted, Neanderthal, etc., but they draw inspiration from their UK brethren.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 9:47am BST

This is a dishonest document.

The attitude towards homosexuality is not a culturally fixed icon. Indeed the present position of gay people in the Carribean reflects closely on the nations who were once the imperial power here. So in Saba you can get married, and the former French, Dutch or Spanish possessions open their arms to gay people and the law is very welcoming.

Whereas in former British colonies the same vicious anti-gay laws the UK left behind often remain. It is morally just and an obligation for the British government to agitate for laws they drafted to be set aside.
Using the giving of aid to promote the cause of freedom from oppressive legislation and gay equality is a fair and proportionate response to this evil.

Strange that the only document or text quoted here was one from the English House of Bishops, what a shame the did not start with their obligations under the statement from the Dromantine meeting:
"The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship."

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 11:05am BST

Thanks be to God that there are some people who are still willing to stand with God, even in the face of persecution.

Canada should look in the mirror before it starts to bully other countries about the gay issue. Our society is in free fall. The huge majority of people now care only for themselves and will take out as much as they get away with while putting in as little as they can. Because it is "all about me". So much for being a people of God!

Posted by: AMPisAnglican on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 1:34pm BST

So sad, so mean spirited, boldly obstinate, unrealistic (spiritually dangerous of body, soul and mind - theirs and other peoples).

What this group of older gentlemen, and they are older men, really mean is the Caribbean Peoples remain in a state of pretending that the intimate lives/loves of some of her people is different than it really is...no muss, no fuss, focus on false double standards and deceit and all will continue to appear exclusively heterosexual and Afro-Caribbean pure...the Bible tells them so as a LGBTI bloodbath continues in Jamaica and other outposts of superstitious damning of *equality and difference* at the Anglican Communion. GAFCON, no doubt will keep them reassured along with their accomplices at the sparsely attended Province of the Southern Cone while the whole of the Western Hemisphere embraces diversity and Christian love of ones neighbors.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 2:09pm BST

It's not that long ago that Britain, both in legislation and in culture, was profoundly racist to an extent that makes today's racism look positively enlightened. Should the CofE have protested against the Race Relations Bill, on the grounds that it offended against long-standing cultural norms of casual racism?

It is ironic that the most vicious homophobia in the Church of England comes from black bishops. A generation ago, they would have been excluded from their posts on the grounds of race, which could have been backed with with exactly the same sort of language. But it wasn't, because the CofE was better than that then, and saw racism for the wrong that it is. The CofE should be better than that now. When churches discriminate more profoundly, more deeply and more enthusiastically that society at large, something has gone very wrong.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 3:01pm BST

There's a lot of anti-gay violence in Jamaica. I don't know about the other islands.

Patriarchy and promiscuity reign amongst straight, married men on some of the islands. I wonder if there is going to be a call for discriminatory laws against straight men because of this?

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 7:17pm BST

Odd that the same wing of the Church that likes to use the argument that SSBs are a capitulation to modern culture by a Body that is called to be countercultural, appeals to secular culture as an authority for outlawing SSBs. Seems the Church must be countercultural and prop up the dominant culture at the same time - anything to keep out the gay.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 7:59pm BST

"The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage."

Fine by me. I see your wager and I make a call.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 8:25pm BST

"The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement: ...stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds."

What's truly "unacceptable" (on GOSPEL grounds) is the vicious homophobic violence we've seen in Jamaica. Anathema!

"if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage"

HUMAN rights CANNOT be Zero-Sum. The rights of Human A can never abrogate the rights of Human B. If the W.I. bishops are trying to claim that they have the *human rights* to override the human rights of LGBTs, that's a ***non-sensical non-starter***.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 9:00pm BST

Interested Observer wrote:
It's not that long ago that Britain, both in legislation and in culture, was profoundly racist to an extent that makes today's racism look positively enlightened... It is ironic that the most vicious homophobia in the Church of England comes from black bishops.

I note that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a strong supporter of human rights for all children of God, including LGBT children. Further, Corretta Scott King noted that she and MLK were supporters of gay equality, and noted the participation of gays in the Civil Rights movement for African Americans.

Yes, it is most sad that some of the most recently oppressed are now the oppressors. It certainly mirrors the early history of Christianity. It goes to show that the church has erred numerous times, including on misogyny and homophobia.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 1:09am BST

I, like Interested Observer, find it hard to understand how those once (or even now) on the receiving end of prejudice, can notwithstanding also be on the giving end. President Obama said it well at the inauguration earlier this year; Seneca Falls (vote for women); Selma (anti-segregation of Blacks) and Stonewall (rights and dignity for Gays)are all connected. Civil Rights are human rights and human dignity. If I thought our Lord were of any other persuasion, I wouldn't be a Christian.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 6:13am BST

The dishonesty is also in conflating legal recognition of same-sex unions and opening up of marriage to same-sex couples with decriminalisation of homosexuality and prevention of anti-LGBT violence.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 10:28am BST

Bishop Drexel Gomez has a lot to answer for - in his implacable stand against the Gay community in the Church. Homophobia is still rife in places other than the Global South, but the West Indies is not immune to sex and gender difference. Kyrie eleison!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 12:36pm BST

"While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage."

So why not a legally protected right to antisemitism? It is an affirmation of "cultural and religious convictions" after all.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 12:50pm BST

Bill Dilworth's reaction is my own: whenever Anglicans in Canada insist (by way of argument contra marriage equality) that our task is to challenge and transform the culture, I note that they invariably weren't to be found pressing for the Anglican Church of Canada to amend the marriage canon before 2004.

Posted by: Geoff M on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 8:40pm BST

Credo in unum gayum

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 9:47pm BST

When was the last time the religion of the Churches was counter-cultural ?

E.g. The BCP 1662 simply accepts the situation on the 'Plantations' in its Baptism of those who are of Riper Years

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 12:24pm BST

ED: perhaps my sole voice for the Caribbean will be heard. The stats on patriarchy and promiscuity are clear.

Perhaps the post is somewhere in spam.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 8:10pm BST
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