Comments: London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban

I would think this puts a fair bit of pressure on Fittall and the automotic naysayers who think they can gazump any debate or discussion.

Posted by JeremyP at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 11:27am GMT

This is a fantastic move by those clergy in London...if only we could get the statement to go national in all the dioceses it would test the temperature in the Church of England. This could then encourage General Synod members to move the thing forward. Could someone start a national petition that retired clergy like myself could sign up to. Despite all the signs to the contrary we are getting there but thank you to the State and not the Church!

Posted by Robert Ellis at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 11:46am GMT

I agree with you, I would be more than happy to sign such a letter. I am retired, in a God given civil partnership in Scotland.

Posted by Fr John at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 12:00pm GMT

Bravo! Uplifting and encouraging news!

Posted by Nat at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 4:51pm GMT

The Incumbents of some significant London churches have signed the list still open I wonder. I'm suprised no-one thought of co-ordinating with those in the dioceses of Southwark and elsewhere.I will be interested to see how the remarks by the Bishop of London in the concluding part of his statement are received.

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 5:03pm GMT

Robert and John , great idea ! I too should like to sign.

Most encouraging.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 6:32pm GMT

Just a thought: could we add our signature 'virtually' so to speak. I'll sign immediately.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 8:16pm GMT

Difficult not to cheer. Chartres' response is mendacious (perhaps necessarily so, let us be charitable): the letter is not concerned with 'pastoral concern' but with 'rights'.

Posted by john at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 8:49pm GMT

A fine beginning to the task of openly challenging the current position of the CofE. I join with others in hoping that priests, and lay members as well, take up this challenge to the position of General Synod. This is how change will happen: by an open, transparent dialogue within the Church. Eventually, a majority of clergy and baptized members will support change, and it will become inevitable.

I am not so critical as some about the letter of the Bishop of London. Clearly, he is anxious to avoid individual priests acting on their consciences and presenting him with parish based blessings prior to General Synod approval.

Bishop Chartres did hit a sour note when he wrote,"the unity of the Church and our core mission ... must remain paramount. I hope the discussion will continue ...whilst not distracting from the important ministry our churches are carrying out..." Excluding same sex couples from the blessing of their commitments to one another is a direct threat to the unity of the Church. How would this project distract from the "important ministry" that the Church is carrying out.? I note that several school and hospital chaplains signed this letter. One can only imagine how difficult it must be to explain the Church's position to high school and university students. How does one, in good conscience, refuse blessings to couples where one is very ill or dying?

This will be a very difficult journey for those who advocate change. England is, perhaps, only months away from same sex civil marriage. +RW and +JS will fight hard against this. The schismatic Churches and bishops do not recognize any difference between priests blessing civil partnerships and the blessing of civil marriages, or the conducting of lawful marriages by priests in their parish churches.

I offer my prayers and good wishes to everyone who works for this change. Don't let the seriousness of the challenge and the many difficulties that you will face discourage you. LGBTI persons, including myself, deserve full human dignity and the blessing of our loving relationships, in England and everywhere else.

Posted by karen macqueen+_ at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 10:03pm GMT

Bishop Chartres may put “unity” in front of justice; others, such as the Bishop of Willesden fall back on “not enough discussion”. But unity cannot rightly be had at the price of neglecting the outcast, and for heaven’s sake – isn’t twenty years enough time for “discussion”?

One is tempted to say something about how long certain bishops have sat there for all the good they have done – especially now that the tide has turned, and so many are now turned away from the church by its endless procrastination, protection of privilege and general exclusion of the gay people that make up one’s family, friends and neighbors next door.

Posted by Nat at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 10:46pm GMT

I'm loving the ebullient 'Hey, let's put on a show!' optimism here. So what's next?

Let's bypass the whole flawed preferment process. With a bit of derring-do, maybe a Crown Nominations Commission member could be persuaded to leak the whereabouts of their next meeting. My uncle could build a hustings platform right outside for our protest to hear our favoured candidate...'

These political pressure tactics will hardly sway the current review process.

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 2 February 2012 at 10:56pm GMT

And this from a diocese which narowly failed to pass the Women Bishops motion!

I also note several women , tipped for higher things who have put their careers on the line.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Friday, 3 February 2012 at 6:48am GMT

@David Shepherd - Jesus is coming back to start a review process?

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Friday, 3 February 2012 at 10:31am GMT

My reaction Butt's report on Chartres' reaction: Any excuse.... It's all spin to delay, delay. And he should talk about challenging economic times after the botch up in the way he handled the Occupy encampment outside St Paul's. Clearly, the bish doesn't get it. It's all about being pastoral, innit, Richard.

Glad to see (and not surprised at all) that the clergy of St James's Piccadilly have signed the letter. That parish was very welcoming to me when I lived in London (and still is), with an active LBGT group.

Posted by Jay Vos at Friday, 3 February 2012 at 1:48pm GMT


Now please can we have a way of collecting signatures from clergy in all Dioceses , working and retired.

Posted by Jean Mary Mayland at Friday, 3 February 2012 at 6:25pm GMT

"Chartres says the age of austerity is a more pressing issue for clergy than registering churches for civil partnerships"

Because God only knows THAT'S an Either/Or choice!


It seems to me Chartres is in his OWN "age of austerity" when it comes to loving God's LGBT children (partnered) as Christ loves him. :-(

Posted by JCF at Friday, 3 February 2012 at 9:10pm GMT

@Gerry Lynch:

Yes. All of the prophecies point to 14th November 2012.

Just remember: you heard it on TA first.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 4 February 2012 at 1:49pm GMT

Yes, we can now sign virtually on here :--

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 4 February 2012 at 3:50pm GMT

Interesting response from Pete Broadbent :

Posted 03 February, 2012 12:42

Here's part of my letter to Willesden clergy on the matter:

A number of London clergy (including some of you) have signed a petition which is in the news today asking for the liberty for incumbents to decide whether or not to hold civil partnership ceremonies in Church of England churches as a matter for the individual conscience of the priest, analogous with the decision whether or not to remarry divorcees in church. It’s an important issue for us to face, but there is of course work in progress in the House of Bishops on a number of fronts before we can make a decision on this. First, there is a working party chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man which is tasked with reviewing the 2005 Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships. This working party is due to report this year. Secondly, another HoB working party is looking at the listening process and the previous statements made by the House in Issues in Human Sexuality and Some Issues. That group will report in 2013. There’s a tranche of questions here, including the eligibility of clergy in civil partnerships for episcopal office; what liturgical provision (official or otherwise) might be made for either blessing or registering civil partnerships on religious premises; and what progress has been made in the listening process. Perhaps the most basic unaddressed question is that of our theological understanding of the meaning of civil partnerships. A concept invented by Government on the hoof has never been addressed by us properly. Our rightly held gut pastoral reaction to wish to affirm committed friendship (a point made by Bishops in the House of Lords during the debate on the Civil Partnership legislation) has never been followed through by thinking about the meaning of such relationships within the whole gamut of Christian tradition. So there is more work to be done before we can respond to this petition – and the discussion will begin in the House of Bishops (which has had very little debate on these matters over the last ten years) before it comes to the floor of General Synod.


Posted by John Birch at Saturday, 4 February 2012 at 4:21pm GMT

Delayed "listening processes" can last only so long before they get overtaken by events.

The Philadelphia Eleven are one example of this.

Retired bishops of independent means have a limited tolerance for unprincipled authority.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 1:58am GMT

If only the Church had the foresight to see that committed, monogamous, Same-Sex Partnerships are as worthy of the Church's Blessing as that of any other loving couple; there may not have been the same pressure by the general public to see Same-Sex Marriage as the only viable alternative.

Pre-emptive statements by the Church so often do have to be reneged upon. When will we learn?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 9:33am GMT

Both John Sentamu and Peter Broadbent have defined civil partnerships as "friendships". What planet are they living on. This, as Peter Tatchell said, demeans the nature of the relationship. They will do anything but admit the goodness of loving same sex relationships.

Posted by Simon at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 4:43pm GMT

Pete Broadbent says '...and the discussion will begin in the House of Bishops (which has had very little debate on these matters over the last ten years...'.

If this is so then the Bishops haven't been doing their duty as pastors and leaders but have burried their heads and their mitres in the sand while the world has moved on. No wonder most of them look like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 6:48pm GMT

@David Shepherd - has had the Rapture Index at or close to its all time high for almost a year now, so the signs are clearly all around us.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 10:00pm GMT
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