Saturday, 6 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -2

Q 55 (Rod Thomas) to ask the Secretary General

Why does this decision of the House of Bishops in December 2012 in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate necessitate the removal in GS Misc 1044 of all the relevant factors which can properly be taken into account by the CNC in considering episcopal appointments which previously appeared in paragraph 29 of GS Misc 992 (with the exception of the factor relating to the existence of a civil partnership)?

Answer from William Fittall

Paragraph 29 of the Legal Office note of December 2010 set out various factors that could in principle be taken into account given the terms of the Equality Act and the lack of clarity at that point over whether what was said in the 2005 pastoral statement about priests and deacons also applied to bishops. The clarity created by the December 2012 statement enabled the revised note to distinguish more sharply between the test relevant to assessing the suitability of a particular candidate - the new paragraph 29 - and the criterion for imposing a requirement about civil partnership in the circumstances of a particular appointment.

Q 56 (Giles Goddard)

Why are the practices of undertaking enquiries into candidates for the episcopate involved in marriage after divorce, and of seeking assurances from candidates to the episcopate in civil partnerships (as described in paragraphs 22 and 29 of GS Misc 1044 respectively) not routinely extended to all candidates, to avoid even the slightest appearance of discriminatory treatment?

Answer from William Fittall

The enquiries made in the event of a marriage after divorce or marriage to someone with a surviving spouse are akin to those made under the Canon C4 faculty procedure. They are essentially to enable the Archbishop of the province to determine that there are no issues from the breakdown of the previous marriage that might constitute an obstacle to episcopal appointment. In relation to civil partnership the test is of a different character namely whether someone’s conduct is and will remain consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. To avoid the appearance of discrimination that assurance is in fact now sought in relation to all candidates for episcopal appointment.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 5:22pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

William Fittall may say that married potential bishops are treated the same as potential bishops in civil partnerships (ie non-discriminatory) but the way GS Misc 1044 is framed says something different.

It defines the purpose of the investigations to be concerned with unity and threat to traditional views:

"whether... being in either of the categories referred to in the preceding paragraph would be an obstacle to effective episcopal ministry, as a focus of unity"

which implies the very fact that someone is in a gay relationship might itself be a threat to unity, and hence a reason for discriminating compared to other candidates... the discrimination being

"justifiable with reference to the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number" in the see

This wording seems to mandate discrimination against a gay candidate because a section of the see are hostile to gay sexuality. The section of GS Misc 1044 which Giles cites, has nothing to do with the same treatment for heterosexual married priests. It has to do with different treatment for gay priests because they are gay.

The Law may technically allow that but the Church should be ashamed. It is discriminatory.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 1:33am BST

It is remarkable how "strongly held religious convictions" are held to be beyond challenge when they relate to gender or sexual orientation. No other aspect of a bishop's life or values matters apparently. If only the CoE could raise its collective vision above the crotch.

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 10:42am BST

>It is remarkable how "strongly held religious convictions" are held to be beyond challenge when they relate to gender or sexual orientation

So let's ban diversity in the name of diversity.

Hmmm. (Yet another) descending spiral anyone?

Posted by: Fred on Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 9:51am BST
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