I might have missed something but I haven't seen any reference to the four day long "Celtic Bishops" meeting that took place immediately after Harpers letter appealing for calm, and almost immediately before their own meeting.
I mention this because in my view the policy of Wales, Scotland and Ireland was jointly developed.
The "we respect the integrity of all positions" this characterised was always vulnerable and the catalyst for the breakdown has caught many of us by surprise. Wales, Scotland and England have many civilly partnered clerics and perhaps we all thought the matter would just pass unnoticed when they happened in the Republic - Not so!
I am sure that some of the recent meeting in Pitlochry must have reviewed this joint approach. There must also have been some conversations on the announcement from David Cameron that gay marriage will be reality by 2015 - as he put it recently "Not despite my being a Conservative - but because I am a Conservative"
This will seriously affect the ability of the bishops to duck the issue or defend their position on the basis that Civil Partnerships are not marriage - so perhaps the Irish Conference will just be the starting point for a new Celtic approach or signifies a breakdown in the unified strategy.
Just before the meeting in Scotland I was contacted by two bishops to see if we would "get married" in the event ....... I didn't reply then but have written recently that we would, and hoped that by then this event would be welcomed by Welsh Bishops saying "I'm not supporting your marriage despite being a Christian - but because I'm a Christian"!!
Like Martin, I think this is not good news, even though I have no doubt of Harper's personal integrity. Silent fudge will no longer be an option and they surely can't come out with a liberal position (much as some of them might want to).
John, stranger things have happened. Sometimes the Holy spirit, when conscientiously invoked, can create an entirely new order. Look at Vatican II.
Yes, I know, That didn't work either!
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