Sunday, 16 February 2014

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition Response to the House of Bishops

Press Release

The LGB&TI Anglican Coalition is appalled by the House of Bishops’ recently-issued Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, especially in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address in which it was stated that differing views should be accepted in a spirit of ‘good disagreement’. In this document we see no acceptance of disagreement at all, but instead a heavy-handed and legalistic imposition of discipline.

The new guidance emphasises the well-known fact that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Church of England churches even when equal marriage takes effect. Furthermore, despite the recommendation of the Pilling Report, the prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is reinforced. While these iron exclusions are in place it is simply ludicrous to speak of the Church ‘Welcoming’ lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGB&TI) people, or to pretend that this statement is in any sense ‘pastoral’.

The guidance also excludes people married to members of the same sex from ordination, and forbids LGB&TI clergy to marry same-sex partners. This is cruel and unjust to clergy who have faithfully served the church, hitherto with the full knowledge and support of their bishops, and it will impoverish the ministry by driving away LGB&TI ordinands. Only those who are prepared to lie will remain.

The statement was made without any consultation with openly gay people, and fails to acknowledge that some of the bishops who are signatories are understood to be gay themselves. This heightens the corrosive sense of hypocrisy and cynicism with which this issue is surrounded in the Church.

We are aware that the position taken in this statement was partly or even mainly driven by fears about the unity of the Anglican Communion, and that bishops who wished to take a less harsh line were told that the Communion would not stand for it. In some large African provinces which are threatening to secede over this issue the Anglican Church helps supply the theology which backs the violent persecution of LGB&TI people. We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.

This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGB&TI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth. It may seek to carry disciplinary authority, but it has no moral authority and cannot command respect. We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 16 February 2014 at 11:23pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Seems to me that now there can be no Pilling process. Not much point to 'facilitated comversations' if the Bishops have already made up their minds. That in itself is no bad thing per se, they would have been a sham process in any case.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 12:12am GMT

Wow.

Stunning release. Nails it.

The outrage pouring out in response to the equal marriage ban is something to behold. The bishops have really crossed the line this time. I strongly suspect that they know it, too.

Ball's in their court. The longer they hold off on issuing a full retraction and apology for their appalling statement, the worse it'll get for them. I know they think in terms of realpolitik first and foremost. Guys, realpolitik is screaming at you to get this situation under control. The right thing to do is also the smart thing to do.

I hope they have the good sense not to wait too long.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 12:35am GMT

This bishops, when asked for bread, gave us a stone.

How many people, and not just LGBT's will the bishops drive from the church, and indeed from Christianity?

And all to appease countries where they hunt gay people down in the streets and murder them, egged on by the American evangelical/television right.

Knock, and it will be slammed in your face.

I have just had the Sacraments brought to me by a group(of heterosexuals) from my church, as I am housebound at the moment. All deplored the state of the C of E and rejoiced in the Christian and prophetic steps taken by ECUSA.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 12:48am GMT

This is very well done.

It scolds the bishops, and properly so, for their sacrilegious doubletalk.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 12:55am GMT

"We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn."

It won't be, for the "unity" reasons that the release so aptly demolishes.

The guidance will, however, be swiftly disobeyed.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 12:59am GMT

Are there not surveys which indicate that public opinion about homosexual persons has changed considerably over the past 3 decades? Increasingly, individuals will identify themselves as other than heterosexual.

Many of us have encountered this new openness among our own friends and kin - people whom we know and value. To learn something more about them that we hadn't been aware of does not lower our affection or esteem for them. Surely the hierarchy also have LGBT friends and relations?

The Episcopal Council repeats the traditional teaching. Equivalent to Common Law? But how about Equity? Just because the union between one man and one woman is legally termed "Marriage" does that mean that no other covenanted union between two persons cannot be so termed? Words mean what they grow to mean.

"Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings."

Posted by: Sister Mary on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 6:34am GMT

So; despite the recommendation from the Pilling Report that the Church of England would do well to facilitate the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. the House of bishops has turned their backs on this!

The message, though rather muddled in some ways, is very clear about the continuing homophobia that will likely prevent any Gay or Lesbian Candidates from applying for Ordination in the Church of England. and those within that ministry will have to be even more careful and subversive about their intrinsic sexuality than ever before.

UNLESS, there is a rebellion on the part of those in the House of bishops and the House of Clergy, who are willing to stand up and fight for their dignity, and for the right of LGBTI people to share in the life and ministry of the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 7:29am GMT

"We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity."

The salient point. Glad that the LGB&TI Anglican Coalition spoke this truth.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 7:34am GMT

A fantastic statement, thank you all who contributed to writing this.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 9:08am GMT

A brilliant statement.I agree with it entirely

Thank you

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 11:59am GMT

My advice to LGBT's in England: When you see a C of E bishop, run. When they smile, run faster.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 3:59pm GMT

Strange isn't it, how there wasn't the same outpouring of invective when Evangelicals and Anglo Catholics were seeking a place within the church and the net was slowly closing in on them?! One can't have one's cake and eat it too.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 4:35pm GMT

For the sake of all the decent gay and lesbian individuals and couples who are otherwise demeaned and diminished by this blatant discrimination, please don't resign over this.

When I read the bishops' statement a couple of days ago, I was physically shaken. It is outrageous. I was honestly appalled.

I urge individual priests *not* to resign, but to act *collectively*.

What is needed is a coalition of resistance, a coalition of conscience... backed up by local PCCs.

It is a *myth* that the C of E as one body is against blessing of gay and lesbian couples (in whatever form). That is total myth and needs public repudiation. The reality is that the church like society is split down the middle.

All the more reason why 'top down' imperium is wrong. Because it tramples the conscience of one half of its members. It dominates. It defies local communities.

If a local faith community, a local PCC, a local priest... have conscience on this issue... then no dictat from above should stop them expressing their community beliefs. Why? Not just for their own consciences' sakes. But for the sake of the dignity and equal standing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and genderqueer people in their communities. This statement is like quasi-racism. What possible message of 2nd class citizenship and devaluing of love does this send to potential believers?

(continued in post 2 of 2)...

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 5:48pm GMT

(continuing... post 2 of 2)...

What I think is needed is this:

The creation of an alliance. A coalition of conscience. Formed of maybe 100 churches, with the courage to insist on the exercise of their consciences. After all, since when was desire for blessing people a sin? What madness is this?

And then, it should be a case of one out, all out. Individual priests will just get picked off, but a coalition could decide on collective action: collective blessings from a given date. Refusal by PCC's to accept any other priest, if a dissenting priest is removed. Actions by *all* churches in a coalition, if a single priest or church is sanctioned.

We are meant to uphold authorities. But we also have duties of decency and conscience. This is one of those occasions. We also have to uphold the decency of decent people, their respect, their decent lives, their love, ***their part in our communities***.

For this reason I call for a coalition of conscience.

The LGB and TI Coalition is an example of a coalition, and its statement here is excellent. I believe a similar and broader coalition should be created, using modern communications, and networking.

Unfortunately I am just a student nurse. I don't have the power, status or influence to set it in motion.

But I do know this statement has gone too far. I am ashamed and disgusted. Ashamed for the disrespect it shows my partner. Disgusted by such prejudicial, unequal treatment and scant regard for the truthful reality in our churches and communities today.

Love you, so grateful for your values,

Susannah

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 5:54pm GMT

Benedict -
They were given extended episcopal oversight so that they could (& can have) a bishop who honours their interpretation of Scripture and ecclesiology. Perhaps you'd care to extend the same courtesy to same-sex couples and homosexually accepting Christians?

Posted by: Commentator on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 5:58pm GMT

Benedict
"One can't have one's cake and eat it too."

Can't one? I thought you guys were happy with the provisions proposal so many liberals helped to negotiate?
Why the spite?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 5:59pm GMT

And while many right wing Christians are complaining that they are being discriminated against because their right to discriminate against some populations is no longer recognized, this is happening in Nigeria:

http://www.news.com.au/world/mob-attacks-men-they-believe-to-be-gay-in-nigerian-capital-abuja/story-fndir2ev-1226828336527

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 6:02pm GMT

Seems to me that Benedict makes a valid point. A church like a nation is judged by how it treats its minorities.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 6:55pm GMT

Why the spite Erika? I can't believe you have interpreted my statement as spite. It is simply emphasising how attitudes change when one is affected directly. And memories are very short. Post November 2012 we Anglo Catholics were absolutely vilified by the liberal constituency as being the cause of the vote disaster etc. In one liberal parish magazine in the York Diocese catholic clergy were referred to as blackshirts. It's not spite, it's reminding liberals that they haven't a monopoly in the Church of England on feeling rejected.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 7:16pm GMT

It looks like the bishops are determined to push this through and abandon LGBT people. The church is irredeemably homophobic, in my view and I think we all have to decide whether we can accept that or leave. Fighting this will just drain energy away, better to fight from outside and ensure the church has as little influence in society as possible. Regretfully, but that is the reality, I fear.

Posted by: sjh on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 7:37pm GMT

"One can't have one's cake and eat it too."

We're talking about justice, not cake. Discrimination is immoral. It's hurtful, and the bad theology behind it is fueling murder, torture, and imprisonment in some corners of the Anglican Communion.

I'm glad you got your cake, Benedict. But others need basic human rights, justice, and inclusion in God's diverse creation.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 7:38pm GMT

Benedict's intervention has one (possibly unintended implication:

If the conscience of priests, PCCs, and local church communities matters with regard to women bishops...

Then why doesn't the conscience of priests, PCCs, and local church communities matter with regard to welcoming, blessing and celebrating gay and lesbian relationships, partnerships, and marriages?

Perhaps a coalition of conscience could consider appealing to the Episcopal Church in the US and Katherine Jefforts Schori for temporary episcopal oversight, if the bishops attempt to remove a priest who acts on conscience (and the growing moral awareness of the British public and MPs) on issues of gay and lesbian relationships and tender faithful love.

It's really rather simple. A local community of faith, who collectively with their PCCs and priest, believe as a matter of conscience that gay and lesbian partners should not be dealt with in a reduced and discriminatory way, have an absolute moral right to uphold their moral values... and as an end resort, have as much of a right to supporting episcopal oversight as priests and PCCs on the women bishops issue.

If churches organise collectively, they can also set a deadline together for when gay and lesbian partnership blessings will begin, and commence moral action collectively, as groups of PCCs and local communities, expressing their faith, and endorsing the relationships which the bishops seek to proscribe from church life.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 8:21pm GMT

"the net was slowly closing in on them?!"

Benedict, your "net closing in" equates to "my priest or bishop might have a different theological opinion from mine".

In Nigeria and Uganda and Russia, NOOSES are closing in (and not slowly). Policies like the one just promulgated by the CofE bishops re marriage equality, ENABLE the noose-tyers (rock throwers, lesbian-rapers, f@ggot-burners).

Your "cake and eat it" comparison isn't Apples vs Oranges. It's Apples vs Molotov Cocktails. Kyrie eleison.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 9:51pm GMT

One of the most egregious aspects of the pastoral statement is the mockery it makes of disciplinary procedures intended to hear serious allegations of misconduct. It throws the CDM into disarray, and should be raised as a matter of concern by Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee as a matter of urgency. As pointed out on another thread, threats which are not carried out brings the whole system into disrepute.

Any diocesan wishing to instigate a CDM faces significant hurdles, it seems to me, as tribunals would scarcely find grounds for 'unbecoming or inappropriate conduct'. It would depend on the composition of the tribunal, required to include two lay people and two clergy, and on being able to show why the respondent had departed from 'the doctrine of Christ' by getting married, as opposed to contracting a civil partnership - an exclusively secular institution. Difficult in itself to argue, let alone agree on an appropriate penalty. If the CDM is to have any credibility then the penalties which may be imposed (prohibitions, removals from office, revocations of licence, conditional discharges and injunctions) should be reserved for serious cases of misconduct, and at all times, according to the code of practice, must be 'proportionate to the nature and seriousness of the issues raised' and 'fair to all relevant interested parties, including ... the respondent's family...'.

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 17 February 2014 at 9:52pm GMT

Andrew has hit the nail on the head.

How can the CofE credibly declare that it is "unbecoming or inappropriate" for a same-sex couple to... wait for it... marry?

On one level this is tragic and unjust. On another level, perhaps we can look forward to some serious episcopal embarrassment.

Indeed ridicule may be the best response.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 12:26am GMT

It seems to me that either you throw down the gauntlett (like co-ordinating numbers of gay clergy getting married) or you get out. Resist and test the resiliance of the institution and its statements.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 12:53am GMT

Perhaps C of E liberals should demand their own "flying bishops."

Or, they could do what right wing Episcopalians did in the USA; split up dioceses and defect to foreign churches eager to encroach on the territory (and treasure) of the Episcopal Church. Since the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and Rwanda already have a presence in the USA, perhaps alienated English liberals could request the presence of the Episcopal Church in England. Maybe a bishop or 2 might defect, though I doubt they would try to take their dioceses with them (as American bishops tried to do).

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 2:52am GMT

The bishops' statement is a bit like King Canute trying to stop the tide -- it is doomed to look quainter with each quickly passing year.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 8:43am GMT

Andrew,
I believe that right now we're not even sure whether CDM would be used for this. But if it turned out that that is what they were trying to do, how does one mobilise the Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 9:42am GMT

The role of the Ecclesiastical Committee is laid down by the Enabling Act -- the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919. That role is to consider Measures submitted by the General Synod and to say whether it considers it 'expedient' that they be agreed by the Lords and Commons. There are some other details in the Act, but nothing important or relevant.

It does not extend to reviewing what the Church has done, is doing, planning to do, or might do.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 10:03am GMT

Thanks Simon!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 10:16am GMT

When will the Church realise that to be a homosexual or a bisexual person is not to be an aberration of the norm. It is to be part of the God created humanity and truly blessed as such. We love, we commit, we find joy in sex. All this is God given. If all the gay and bi clergy withdrew their services the Church would be in a very sorry state. We come with the territory! Bishops, give us the space to grow and to love and maybe do a bit of growing up yourselves!

Posted by: Elaine on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 10:36am GMT

The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament has indeed quite a limited role. But there is no reason why anybody should not write to their own MP about this issue, or to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, or for that matter to any member of the House of Lords that they think may be sympathetic. That is what happened when the women bishops legislation fell in 2012.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 10:53am GMT

And in the same vein, the letter from the archbishops was addressed to the entire membership of the Church of England, so writing to either or both of them, or to your own diocesan bishop, is entirely in order. Indeed it is to be encouraged.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 10:56am GMT

And the letters that Simon recommends could usefully focus on the simple misstatement in paragraph 9 of the pastoral guidance. It is quite wrong to assert that this is the first time that canon law and secular law on marriage have moved apart. They moved apart over divorce in 1857 and marriage to deceased wife's sister in 1907.

I can't speak for Linda Woodhead or Diarmaid MacCulloch, who have also pointed out this error, but I am getting a bit tired of this. Really the C of E hierarchy should not require correcting by academics every time they open their mouths

Posted by: iain mclean on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 11:34am GMT

Just one more example that the current bench of bishops don't know their Church history. If they don't know where we have come from how can they possibly know where we are going?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 1:19pm GMT

Iain, You're right; either the bishops are woefully ignorant or wilfully disingenuous. Mind you, their memories aren't good - they claim to have been enthusiastic supporters of civil partnerships.

Posted by: JJ on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 1:44pm GMT

I absolutely do not think anything other than people of single sex orientation are created by God and that their sexuality as valid as my own heterosexual orientation.

For me that does not mean that this automatically invalidates the church of England's historical teaching that marriage being between a man and woman is suddenly wrong.

Current understandings of these things might mean that this teaching could be re-examined, but until it is, expecting a furious reaction, I find the house of bishops statement logical. It does not mean those of us who are "conventional" on this do not care deeply and desired the flourishing of all.

Posted by: Stephen on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 4:17pm GMT

Stephen, you've heard what equal marriage means to lesbian and gay people. There's more than sufficient testimony. This isn't a difficult question to be debated. If you care deeply and desire the flourishing of all, change your mind. It's that simple.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 6:39pm GMT

Stephen,
"It does not mean those of us who are "conventional" on this do not care deeply and desired the flourishing of all."

At what point in this conversation will people then listen to when we tell them that we experience this care as deeply hurtful, dismissive, divisive and likely to kick us out of the church?

I mean, what matters here - your perception of your aims and of what you're doing or the reality of how we experience what you're doing?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 7:08pm GMT

"For me that does not mean that this automatically invalidates the church of England's historical teaching that marriage being between a man and woman is suddenly wrong."

Didn't you leave out THE key word there, Stephen?

What you *meant* is

"marriage being between [ONLY] a man and woman is suddenly wrong"

If the State will "suddenly" permit same-sex marriage, and two (e.g., faithful, Anglican) persons of the same sex believe themselves called to marry, then, contra what you wrote, marriage *limited to only* a man and woman IS suddenly wrong.

Can you not see that word "only"---that limiting, that POWER-OVER---you're trying to exert over LGBT people? That this power-over *completely negates* your "people of [LGBT] orientation are created by God and that their sexuality as valid as my own heterosexual orientation"?

Again and again, I have to tell love-expressing/domination-wielding straight people: you CANNOT do both. Love? Or Domination? Choose _only_ one.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 10:29am GMT

"Again and again, I have to tell love-expressing/domination-wielding straight people: you CANNOT do both. Love? Or Domination? Choose _only_ one."

Yes! Thank you JCF, this is the crux of the matter. It is power, and straight people (and apparently gay bishops who feel their stock depends on going with the dominant power group) are exercising their power over the a vulnerable group, LGBT people. And it is antithetical to love.

Alas, the English CoE leadership don't have any sense of how badly they are abusing their power and hurting people in the process. They are a rather thick and obtuse bunch, because they are proclaiming their power rather than listening to LGBT people, or the Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 9:41pm GMT

"[T]hey are proclaiming their power rather than listening to LGBT people, or the Jesus, or the Holy Spirit."

Not quite. They are deluded by the continuing power of the British imperial dream, more than 60 years after the Empire collapsed.

Bishops of the Church of England, stop serving Africa and Asia. You have duties to only one province. Serve England.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 4:52pm GMT

"Not quite. They are deluded by the continuing power of the British imperial dream, more than 60 years after the Empire collapsed.
Bishops of the Church of England, stop serving Africa and Asia. You have duties to only one province. Serve England."

If only your bishops had the attitude that "what's good for England is good for the rest of the world," and gave head to the multitudes of CoE Anglicans who support marriage equality and the sacrament of marriage in the church!

Alas, they seem to see that sustaining their power depends on pandering to human rights abusers.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 9:57pm 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.