Saturday, 5 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Republic of South Africa passed its Civil Union Act in 2006. This permits same-sex relationships to be registered as either civil partnerships or as marriages.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (a province which encompasses Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the island of St Helena) issued this press release (among others) on Friday: Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged its bishops to provide guidelines for giving pastoral care to same-sex couples who have entered civil unions under South African law.

The Church’s ruling Provincial Synod, currently meeting in Benoni, South Africa, on Friday adopted a resolution urging its Synod of Bishops to finalise guidelines “as soon as possible”.

The Church neither marries same-sex couples, nor ordains or licenses priests or deacons who live in same-sex unions. This is in line with the practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

However, in the words of the Right Revd Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, during a debate at the Synod, “civil unions are a reality, whether we like it or not.”

Proposing the resolution, Bishop Breytenbach acknowledged he was on the “conservative” side of the debate. But, he continued, all God’s people needed pastoral care and “we have people in our church who are same-gender couples who regard themselves as married, even though I find it difficult to accept.”

The Right Revd Garth Counsell of Table Bay – from the diocese of Cape Town, which is seen as more open to recognising same-sex marriage – said the resolution was “not talking about same sex- marriage or whether we will do that or not.” It was rather about “confronting legal reality”…

The full text of the resolution is included in the release and is copied below the fold.

This Synod

1 Noting

1The progress that has been made by the Synod of Bishops and various Dioceses in developing guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions, and to those who experience themselves as homosexual;

2 That we have accepted Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 as the basis for our engagement with the issues of human sexuality

3 That we are still not of one mind on these matters.

2 Affirms:

1 That God calls us to love and minister to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, while at the same time upholding God’s standards of holiness;

2 That this is a highly complex and emotive area which affects many people deeply and has a far reaching impact on the mission of the Church.

3 Commits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

1 To journey together in humility and mutual respect as we seek God’s mind on the difficult issues of human sexuality;

2 To continue to engage in a process of listening to the whole variety of experiences and viewpoints so as to increase our understanding of these issues;

4 Resolves to

1 Respectfully request the Synod of Bishops to work towards finalising the Guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions as soon as possible.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 12:30pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Far too little, far too late.

What's up with the Churches ?

The way they treat their lgbt - and CONTINUE to, is dreadful.

Non-religious lgbt wonder why any lgbt bother with religion - they may have a point...

Posted by: Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 3:08pm BST

Maybe Pope Francis has influenced this Province. Our diocese has several priests in same-sex civil unions, most of which are very long-term, 10 years or more, and the priests are highly regarded.

Posted by: Peter Denis on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 3:20pm BST

They sign up to the Covenant and then make a move like this!

Posted by: Robert ian Willaims on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 11:22pm BST

I think that, for a Province on the Continent of Africa, the Southern African Anglican Church is moving in a good and wholesome direction. It is seeking to operated in the world of reality - rather than the 'virtual world' of the GAFCON Provinces.

In common with former Archbishop of Capetown, the Right Reverand Desomnd Tutu, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa is seeking to bring justice to the minority community of people who happen to have been created in the Image and Likeness of the very same God who created the majority homosexual community. Same God, same children of God!

One can only hope that the GAFCON Trumpet sound at Nairiobi might give way to the clarion call of the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came into this world to save sinners - all of us!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 6 October 2013 at 12:56am BST

Peter:Maybe Pope Francis has influenced? explain.?

All I know is that before divorce and re-marriage became a free fo all in he Church Of England they blessed re-marriages for years. A similar pattern could be emerging here.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 6 October 2013 at 8:07am BST

Don't they have full marriage equality in SA? If so, why the weak response to "skim milk" civil unions?

Posted by: etseq on Sunday, 6 October 2013 at 1:12pm BST

etseq, I believe the Civil Union Act _is_ SA's form of marriage equality. It's a bit convoluted and not my region but AIUI there are three laws under which South Africans get married. One is applicable only to heterosexual couples, one only to members of certain indigenous tribes, and one is the Civil Union law, under which any two adults can marry. AFAIK there is no difference in benefits or nomenclature - people are free to refer to their relationship as a "marriage" or a "union" regardless of which law they were married under (this is in contrast to the American political landscape where it's explicit that civil unions ≠ marriage). It's just that each "path" to marriage is governed by a different law. I know it sounds odd; someone on the ground there can set me (erm) straight if I'm off base.

I suppose you could argue it's not "true" marriage equality until same-sex couples (or white people, for that matter) have the same three-way choice of which law they wish to marry under, but it's a fine distinction to me.

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 7 October 2013 at 12:07am BST

Interestingly a comment not picked up at the time of the recent Welsh vote ( and bring forth no reaction!) but recorded in the Church Times...Archbishop Morgan affirmed that the Welsh hierarchy was quite happy with gay clergy couples ( and lay ministers ) as long as thay were in a civil partnership. This was in response to a question about sexual morality and practice, so there was no pretence to celibacy. Maybe the Anglican Church in Southern Africa is headed in the same direction?

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Monday, 7 October 2013 at 5:52am BST

Thanks for explanation!

Posted by: etseq on Monday, 7 October 2013 at 9:21pm BST

Good evening, I know it is some years since these posts were questioning matters; has the Anglican Church in South Africa produced a new Theological Report since the " The Church and Human Sexuality" of the CPSA in April 1995. If yes, where may I obtain subsequent documents? Many thanks. Fr Garth Petzer

Posted by: Fr garth on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 at 4:13pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.