Comments: Guardian coverage of Permanent, Faithful, Stable

The situation is even more repugnant than described by Jeffrey John. a) His position in the Church is unassailable because he has renounced a sexually active life, and b) Church House spokesmen continually dissemble by not acknowledging that the official policy is to deny self-affirming gay people a safe place in the Church. To understand the true nature of the CoE merely ask yourself why it sought and gained exemptions from all equality legislation. Not to have gained this most dubious distinction would have obliged itself to banish homophobia.

Posted by Richard Kirker at Tuesday, 14 August 2012 at 10:24pm BST

What Richard Kirker said.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 12:38am BST

Until more and more of us are prepared to stand up and be counted the present hypocrisy will continue. Civil disobedience has an honourable tradition as indeed does ecclesiastical disobedience......so come on folks lets stand up and say openly and honestly that we are already conducting Gay Blessing Ceremonies and intend to continue doing so.....so get over it! Perhaps we need a proper register of those clergy who are prepared to offer such ceremonies....a job for Inclusive Church perhaps? In fact I would even take the job on myself, now that I am retired, if anyone is interested.

Posted by Robert Ellis at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 6:58am BST

Good thinking.

The other thing that is needed is some kind of disobedience around 'certain assurances'. Those are questions which should not be asked or answered and there needs to be some kind of protest which cannot cannot be left to gay clergy who would be far too vulnerable. No clergy should be left giving any kind of assurance their is a celibate relationship, whether it is or not. It is not in any way appropriate, not only because it is obscenely intrusive, and ends up with us hearing things about John and others that I neither wish nor need to know, but because it potentially puts the clergy in an dreadful position: really fulfil my vocation, or really fulfil my marriage.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 7:31am BST

Robert,

I too am retired , and enjoying my God given partner.

I agree with every word you write, and it is our generation that must support our gay brothers and sisters in active ministry today.

We have lived our ministry with a church that speaks with a double edge tongue. How many times have we heard the public pronouncements that are so different to what the ABC believes. But also we have been hurt and wounded by the homophobs in ministry in our church.

So yes let those of us who are retired be prepared to support our brothers and sisters, and speak out the truth as Jeffrey is doing..

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 8:31am BST

'A Church of England spokesman said: “These are very strong personal opinions that Jeffrey John has expounded before.” The Church was far more inclusive than they made it seem, as testified to by the fact that John, an openly gay man, occupied a senior position in it, he added.'

Good Lord, hasn't this unnamed spokesman ever heard of tokenism? Doesn't he remember that John's nomination to the episcopate was sabatoged precisely because of his sexuality?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 4:02pm BST

Dear Robert,

I think many (perhaps most) of the civil partnership blessings that take place in the Church of England do so without involving any disobedience - they simply happen outside the pastoral jurisdiction of the bishops, e.g. in the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, or satellite churches of St. Peter's Westminster, where there is no prohibition to disobey.

Posted by Feria at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 4:09pm BST

I agree with the comments above- Lord how long!

I once led the Prayers at civil partnership service in a wonderful marquee with blue silk hangings attached to a village hall with a bar and refeshments and decorated with wonderful flowers- a kind of Garden of Eden!

Posted by Jean Mayland at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 4:33pm BST

"A Church of England spokesman said."

Could someone explain to us non-British folks what this is understood to mean to British newspaper readers, along with some comments on British journalistic practice for quoting anonymous sources?

On the face of it, at least to this American, this is so vague that it could mean anyone ranging from the Archbishop of Canterbury to a retired incumbent now living in the Lake District or anyone ranging from a person actually authorized to speak for the Church of England as an entity to someone on the margins authorized to speak for no one except his partisan blog.

Generally, American newspapers quoting anonymous sources would give significantly more information so that one can judge the authority behind an anonymous statement -- "A high ranking official at Lambeth Palace, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said" or some such.

Posted by dr.primrose at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 7:03pm BST

"A Church of England spokesman said."

I would understand this to mean someone put up by Church House. Probably an official, a church civil servant. Not an anonymous, off the record, comment, but a statement from a press officer, someone not important in themselves but authorized to speak.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 9:31pm BST

If a statement is made by some person who is anonymous, it would read 'who did not wish to be named'. As in 'a high-ranking official who did not wish to be named said that ...'

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 10:27pm BST

Think "White House spokesperson". Everybody understands, even without watching The West Wing, that the phrase means somebody, from the White House press office, either the Press Secretary or a deputy, who is formally authorised to speak on behalf of the White House, and who will therefore be expressing official White House policy on whatever the topic it is.

So in the Church of England more or less, this phrase means somebody authorised by the Communications Office at Church House, Westminster, to speak on behalf of...
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/communications-office.aspx

Incidentally, there is a new Director now in post for that Office. He's been there since the beginning of the month. But clearly, updating this web page with his identity hasn't been given priority yet. However, this may help.
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/04/director-of-communications-appointed.aspx

I would dispute the suggestion by my colleague that such a person is not important in their own right :-)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 10:31pm BST

"A Church of England spokesman said."

A staffer from the Church House Press Office. Could be senior, could be very junior. In this context, I would think senior.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 10:42pm BST

Does Church House usually issue official statements on behalf the Church of England condemning books written by "senior official[s]," deans, bishops, or academics that Church House disagrees with?

This sounds rather like the Holy Office issuing its official list of condemned books. What's next? House arrest for writing books suggesting the earth goes around the sun?

Posted by dr.primrose at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 12:15am BST

The Guardian article depicts quite squarely the dilemma currently being played out in the Church of England. If only the Church of England had been willing to recognise the integrity of Same-Sex Civil Partnerships, there may not have been the call - from both Gays and the broader population - for the institution of Marriage for monogamous Same-Sex couples. The Church has only itself to blame for this particular chicken coming home to roost.

However, with most peoples' understanding of the co-habitation of Same-Sex couples who want to bear witness to their relationship publicly, as akin to that of heterosexual marriage; they understand the need for the application of the title 'marriage' for a faithfully contracted relationship. And how can this possibly affect the ethos of marriage for other, heterosexual, couples?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 12:23am BST

I have a question:

Under UK law, are civil unions treated as identical to marriage for purposes of taxes, inheritance, hospital visitations, etc.? Part of the reason for the push for marriage equality in the US--even in those states that have recognized civil partnerships--is that federal law treats all of the things I noted (and many others) differently for married couples than for non-married ones.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 11:37am BST

Dr Primrose wrote:

Does Church House usually issue official statements on behalf the Church of England condemning books written by "senior official[s]," deans, bishops, or academics that Church House disagrees with?

Really? Is that what happened? Here's the quote from Church House:

'A Church of England spokesman said: “These are very strong personal opinions that Jeffrey John has expounded before.” The Church was far more inclusive than they made it seem, as testified to by the fact that John, an openly gay man, occupied a senior position in it, he added.'

Condemnation? Perhaps I'm missing something, but where's the condemnation? Why don't you point it out to us to dense to see it?

Posted by Peter O at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 12:28pm BST

@Pat - yes, CPs are legally identical to marriage in all 4 UK jurisdictions. Scotland and Northern Ireland make their own laws on marriage. Which means the Scots will be a few years ahead of the UK curve on marriage equality and over here, we'll be some way behind...

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 12:53pm BST

Gerry Lynch wrote "@Pat - yes, CPs are legally identical to marriage in all 4 UK jurisdictions."

I am not sure this is correct. There are some differences.

Firstly, the law specifically prohibits CPs from being celebrated in a religious manner, whereas marriages can have religious content. (You can't even use religious text and content in a registry office CP).

Secondly, and quite importantly, CPs are not transportable, and so partners within a CP will not be recognised as married if the partners travel abroad, even within those countries which have legalised gay marriage within their own borders.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 2:14pm BST

"CPs are not transportable, and so partners within a CP will not be recognised as married if the partners travel abroad, even within those countries which have legalised gay marriage within their own borders.

- Simon Dawson -

All the more reason then why Same-Sex Marriage should be granted to those in a Civil Partnership who wish to travel abroad as a couple. This would be only just and right - another reason the Church should not militate against Same-Sex Marriage.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 17 August 2012 at 1:30am BST

Simon,

You can't use any religious content at all in a civil marriage, though, (not even overtly religious poetry or recorded music), and it is to those (legally speaking) that civil partnership ceremonies are comparable, as I understand it.

Posted by Hannah at Thursday, 23 August 2012 at 2:35pm BST
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