First a couple of links:
I should have included this article by Simon Barrow earlier, but here it is: Civil Partnerships are a Blessing which links to a number of relevant earlier articles by him.
And the issue of Civil Partnerships and the CofE has now reached the Isle of Man.
The following CofE press office summary of the Pastoral Statement by the House of Bishops may be helpful in analysing the reactions of overseas primates and others, including those of Peter Akinola and also Bernard Malango and Drexel Gomez.
1. The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, issued in July, does not change the Church of England’s position on same sex relationships.
2. It upholds the historic teaching of the Church that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and is the proper context for sexual activity. Hence, sexual relationships outside marriage, whether heterosexual or same-sex, fall short of God’s purposes for human beings.
3. It remains the view of the House of Bishops that clergy are expected to live according to the Church’s teaching.
4. The Pastoral Statement was issued by the bishops to offer guidance to the Church of England in response to legislation passed by the British Government and coming into force in December.
5. The Church’s approach to civil partnerships reflects the fact that they will not be marriages, nor based on the presumption of sexual relations between the two people making the legal agreement.
There have been a number of comments about how a policy in this matter can be enforced. What is important to remember is that, because there has been no change in policy the following paragraph from Issues (1991) also still applies:
5.18 In the light of this judgement some may propose that bishops should be more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships. We reject this approach for two reasons. First, there is a growing tendency today to regard any two people of the same sex who choose to make their home together as being in some form of erotic relationship. This is a grossly unfair assumption, which can give rise to much unhappiness, and the Church should do nothing that might seem to countenance or promote it. Secondly, it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members, and not to carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure that they are behaving themselves. Any general inquisition into the conduct of the clergy would not only infringe their right to privacy but would manifest a distrust not consonant with the commission entrusted to them, and likely to undermine their confidence and morale. Although we must take steps to avoid public scandal and to protect the Church’s teaching, we shall continue, as we have done hitherto, to treat all clergy who give no occasion for scandal with trust and respect, and we expect all our fellow Christians to do the same.
(Thanks to a letter writer in last week’s Church Times for drawing attention to this point.)