Comments: Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE

if I remember correctly (and I may not), the requirement that bishops should not be in a civil partnership was one of a list of several requirements that was developed around the time of the vacancy at Southwark and there were suspicions that those requirements were compiled with the sole purpose of disqualifying Jeffrey John from being eligible for the post.

I seem to remember that TA carried the whole list but I was unable to find it in the archives.

It would be helpful to see that list again, in particular if all the other requirements in it still stand.

My own suspicion is that the real issue here is that the CoE is currently lobbying against marriage equality that it has suddenly discovered its support for those Civil Partnerships it had previously opposed. And support of CPs is a lot more credible if being CPd is not a bar to becoming a bishop within the CoE.

And while a lot of people might see this latest announcement as the beginnings of official support for lgbt people and their relationships, it could be interpreted as a purely politically motivated move, in particular if nothing has really changed at all and there is still no realistic chance that any CPd priest would ever become a bishop.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 4 January 2013 at 10:40pm GMT

Do you mean this document?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 4 January 2013 at 11:44pm GMT

“The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate.”

Unless, of course, they are female.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Friday, 4 January 2013 at 11:53pm GMT

It's still completely unacceptable because what it is advocating is a perversion.

Why not stipulate that all heterosexual bishops may be married but must live celibate lives? How unnatural would that seem? How outrageous? It is the same to make that demand for a gay or lesbian couple.

To applaud this decision is to collaborate in a disgusting discrimination requiring perverse and unnatural interference in two human beings' honest and natural love.

It is not a step in the right direction. It is an attempt to embed the discrimination more cosmetically.

How completely out of touch with ordinary, decent, and far more generous and compassionate people outside the church establishment.

The church is still, by these discriminations, vilifying the tender and intimate love that people naturally have for one another, and alienating the general public at the same time.

To be honest, this just disgusts me. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my church on this issue. My very sane, decent and open-minded friends are just aghast.

Posted by Susannah at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:22am GMT

yes, I think that is it, thank you.
What I wanted to refer to was point 29:

29. Relevant factors which can properly be taken into account include:

-whether the candidate had always complied with the Church’s teachings on same-sex sexual activity;
-whether he was in a civil partnership;
-whether he was in a continuing civil partnership with a person with whom he had had an earlier same-sex sexual relationship;
-whether he had expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity;
-and whether (and to what extent) the appointment of the candidate would cause division and disunity within the diocese in question, the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

Because at the time it was clear to everyone that these requirements were put in place precisely to stop Jeffrey John from becoming Bishop of Southwark as every single one of them happens to apply to him and to him only.

And the crucial thing is that, while they might now state that it's acceptable for a bishop to be in a civil partnership, it is clear that as long as the last point stands there will never be a gay civil partnered bishop in the CoE.

Being quite cynical about the CoE by now I believe that the statement that bishops may be civil partnered (but celibate) has its roots in the church opposition to marriage equality and its discovery of its own long standing firm support of Civil Partnerships. That support doesn't look credible if you don't allow your own bishops to be civil partnered.
And as the removal of that requirement does not make it remotely likely that a single civil partnered priest will become a bishop in the CoE, it has absolutely no actual consequences at all.

I am concerned about the many lgbt people who have seen this is a softening of the CoE stance and I firmly believe that they will only be disappointed yet again.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 9:36am GMT

Requiring celibacy of only one group is morally unacceptable because it is supposed to be a calling, not something that can be imposed. To be consistent, why not require all straight candidates for the episcopate be limited to civil partnerships and promises of an intent to be celibate? Why do white straight males have special privileges?

The C of E seems intent on alienating every different camp.

Better no religion than one which makes people feel bad about themselves.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 10:03am GMT

If I was a woman priest in the C of E, I would be outraged right now.

If I was a gay male priest in the C of E, I would be unimpressed.

The tone deafness of the C of E hierarchy continues to astound me.

I suggest two possible solutions.
To my mind, the best solution is simply to consecrate open and partnered gay persons who qualify and who are duly chosen or elected to be bishops. Make all the orders of deacon, priest, and bishop open to all the baptized and end the arbitrary disqualifications of entire populations.
A second solution, less desirable, would be to imitate the Eastern Orthodox model and require celibacy for all bishops.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 12:54pm GMT

I suppose that for many this is a very serious policy move. It may open up the English episcopate to at least one person who has long merited a mitre.

That said, this announcement twists the CofE into an ever-more-ridiculous position. At best, such contortionism is at once comic, prurient, and mendacious.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:10pm GMT

I fear that none of this reflects at all well on the C of E. The original press release came out on the Thursday before Christmas but did not seem to be picked up at all by the general media. The apparent change of position on gay bishops was picked up and discussed in these columns at the time, but the national media did not catch on until it was published in the CT yesterday, after which it formed the main item on most news broadcasts for the rest of the day, and continuing unabated today. Only after the media storm had started did the HoB feel it necessary to issue a further press release clarifying and expanding on this one matter buried in the original wider-ranging release.
Perhaps the HoB, realising what a hot potato this issue could be, deliberately buried it within a larger press release issued at a time when not many people would be looking. If so, they should have left it at that. As it is, coming out with a later release in the midst of the media storm only makes it look as if they are being driven by the news, rather than making it.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:33pm GMT

This is one of those cases where one feels that half a loaf may be worse than no bread. The conditions on which a gay man can become a bishop are insulting.
No one asks a heterosexual bishop to repent of having sex with his wife and promise not to do it again.
It is fine that gay clergy must be in a civil partnership to show their commitment before becoming a bishop as long as they cannot be married.It is wrong and insulting to ask them to repent of any sexual acts with their partner or to promise not to do it again.
It shows that the bishops are still not able to grasp that for some people gay sex is their natural expression.They still labour under a wrong feeling that it is sinful.It really is time that they grew up!

Posted by Jean Mayland at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 5:59pm GMT

Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven... or the See of Durham?

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 7:34pm GMT

"The church is still, by these discriminations, vilifying the tender and intimate love that people naturally have for one another, and alienating the general public at the same time."

Susannah, a beautiful description of an ugly policy.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 7 January 2013 at 7:17am 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.