Saturday, 6 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -1

Although there were several Questions on this topic, none were reached in the course of Friday evening’s General Synod session. The prepared Answers were however made public and may be of interest to readers. So they will be published here in a series of posts over the next day or so, starting with this pair.

Q 44. (Clare Herbert) to Chair of House of Bishops

In the light of the high regard expressed for Civil Partnerships by both archbishops and other bishops recently, such as when the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the House of Lords “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same-sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage” when will the Liturgical Commission be tasked by the House of Bishops to begin work on an authorized rite for the blessing of civil partnerships for the use of those clergy who wish to conduct such services?

and

Q 45 (David Brindley)

In view of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s view expressed in the House of Lords in a speech on 3 June that faithful same-sex relationships should be ‘recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage’, when will the House ask the Liturgical Commission to produce proposals for appropriate liturgical recognition of those relationships?

Answer from The Bishop of Gloucester

The House of Bishops concluded in December that it didn’t at that point want to revise its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships, which, among other things, had affirmed that clergy ‘should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.’ That was because the Pilling report which the House is due to receive this December and the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which had only just been published then, were going to require us to do some more careful thinking before we said anything further.

The context in which we minister is changing very quickly not least with the real possibility that the number of people entering civil partnership will fall very sharply next year once same sex marriages become a legal possibility. The House will be considering the implications of all this very carefully but there is nothing further that I can usefully say at this stage.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 4:49pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

What a predictable answer from the bishop.

As Lord Alli said to Welby in House of Lords,

"You talk the talk but do not walk the walk !"

Who would even want a 'Blessing' from such a tarnished source ?

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 5:52pm BST

I don't wish to be unkind but I can hear the rattling of dry bones. Still, there's always Ezekiel 37.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 7:52pm BST

"..the Pilling report which the House is due to receive this December and the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which had only just been published then, were going to require us to do some more careful thinking before we said anything further."

So, it would appear that more careful thinking has yet to be done on this important issue. The question for those whose lives are dependent on a rational solution to the problems raised by the Church might be "How long, O Lord,how long?"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 10:19pm BST

Best way to avoid the appearance of discrimination, I would have thought, is not to do it. It's a plan.

Posted by: Bishop Alan Wilson on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 8:24am BST

What, actually, is the problem with asking God to bless the commitment and relationship of two people - just as we would with a married couple who are male and female?

What is wrong with seeking God's blessing? We can entrust the nature of the blessing and grace to God.

In the context of civil partnerships that have now been affirmed by even the Archbishop, why wouldn't we encourage a blessing for two people's decent and caring long-term relationship - apart from homophobia?

There's no real time involved in such a straightforward action of goodwill. You just do it because it's decent and kind. We should, actually, be seeking God's blessing for everyone.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 11:54am BST

"What, actually, is the problem with asking God to bless the commitment and relationship of two people - just as we would with a married couple who are male and female?

What is wrong with seeking God's blessing?"

What is wrong is that if we ask God to bless gay relationships we will upset many African bishops. I suspect it is nothing more or less than that.

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 10:14pm BST

"What is wrong is that if we ask God to bless gay relationships we will upset many African bishops. I suspect it is nothing more or less than that."

Ah yes, of course. And upsetting LGBT persons, their children, their extended families, their friends, and the vast majority of English people isn't nearly as important...

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 2:18am BST

Exactly, Cynthia, why is bigotry allowed to masquerade as sensitivity or good conscience when the harm is borne entirely by LGBT people?

Just how is a person harmed if his prejudices are not allowed to control the lives of others? On the other hand, it is clear what harm religiously managed institutional prejudice of all kinds has done down the centuries to all kinds of people.

Posted by: Tom on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 11:19am BST

Why don't PCC's just go ahead and decide for themselves that they want these blessings to take place?

It's not like the Church of England is going to close down hundreds of churches.

You could first establish a network of PCC's that want to be inclusive, and then just agree that from a certain date, you were going to do it, because it's simply an act of decency.

Just do it because it is right.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 12:03pm BST

You would have thought that experience over the past few years would have taught HOB that kicking a justice issue into the long grass simply does not work. What is the matter with them? Why are they so paralysed with fear?

Posted by: Helen on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 12:16pm BST

"Why are they so paralysed with fear?"

Because it's a phobia, homophobia.

"Just do it because it is right."

That's what happened in TEC. Clergy and parishes just started blessing same sex relationships because it was the right thing to do. It worked it's way up. Yes, some bishops forbid it, but you can't hold back the tide, nor stop the arc of history when it bends toward justice.

I am praying that the arc of history starts bending towards justice in CoE these days.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 4:36pm BST
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