Thinking Anglicans

more from the Nigerian synod

Another press release (this is from the official website of the Church of Nigeria, but the tone is far from bureaucratic) is headlined Anglican Archbishop of South East Asia lashes Western liberals.

This contains various quotes from the Archbishop of South East Asia Yong Ping Chung who addressed the synod.

The release also includes the following sentence:

…He was referring to a section of the Anglican Communion particularly the American and Canadian Churches and lately the Church of England, who condones and approves homosexual marriage…

It is not clear whether this is what the archbishop himself believes, or merely what the Nigerian Director of Communications believes, but with reference to the Church of England, this statement is quite simply untrue.

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has neither condoned nor approved “homosexual marriage”. Their recent Pastoral Statement makes it quite clear that:

It remains the case that in law, as in the eyes of the Church, marriage can be entered into only by a man and a woman. The Government has stated that it has no intention of introducing ‘same–sex marriage’. Civil partnerships are not a form of marriage.

And the bishops also clearly state that:

…What needs to be recognised is that the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage- that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church will continue to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships between people of the same sex and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.

The bishops also make it clear that their position now is unchanged from what has been the de facto policy of the Church of England since 1991, when Issues in Human Sexuality was first published.

Anyone who has trouble understanding this should go back and read this summary of the bishops’ statement.

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MerseymikeChristopher ShellTundeSimon SarmientoDr Abigail Ann Young Recent comment authors
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steven
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steven

Hmmm. Can anyone say “slippery slope”–its only a matter of time. Civil Partnerships are an unstable middle ground temporarily adopted for the sake of more gradually transitioning to what is (among many) a less palatable final destination. It all comes down to the old recipe for cooking a frog in such a way that it doesn’t jump out of the pot–increase the temperature gradually. That way, the final result is brought about without having to spend a lot of effort putting the frog back into the pot. Patience is required, but it is far less work in the end. Steven

Neil
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Neil

Simon, your tone is incredulous: “anyone who has trouble understanding this should go back…..” But you see many * do * have trouble understanding, that is the point: The Bishops sit on the fence. They say ‘we uphold Christian marriage. We are not changing the position of the church.’ And then they specifically authorise clergy to partake in what is widely perceived (yes in the UK, including to LGCM, but even more abroad) as gay marriage. (The government says it’s not gay marriage – cept it grants all the same legal rights as marriage and on the back of the… Read more »

Dr Abigail Ann Young
Guest

It is also not yet clear whether or not the Anglican Church of Canada is going to either condone or approve homosexual marriage. What’s on the table, so to speak, right now, is our reaction as a church to the change in the Marriage Act. This summer, in response to a series of court decisions, Parliament passed, and royal assent was given, to a new Marriage Act, which redefines civil marriage to be between two persons rather than between a man and a woman. The legislation (and the court decisions for that matter) protect the rights of ministers of religion,… Read more »

Andrew Brown
Guest

The C of E is certainly not going to try and stamp out civil partnerships for anyone, which is what the Nigerians want it to do. So in that case it does condone and approve, etc, just as it does divorce.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Yes, The CofE House of Bishops is not opposing Civil Partnerships. One reason is because they believe, on the basis of expensive legal advice, that in English (and Scots, and Northern Ireland) law a Civil Partnership is not a Marriage. It really is irrelevant what the general public, or the newspapers, or Neil Barber, or Peter Akinola, thinks. The question is what does the law say. (The situation in other jurisdictions, such as Canada or the USA, may be different.) Another reason is because the law, regardless of what anyone thinks, does not presuppose the sexual orientation of either partner,… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

You’re entitled to your view Simon. Interesting you omit from your list of irrelevancies LGCM? Is it irrelevant that many gays, including many posters here, agree that civil partnerships ARE marriage. I reckon way above any of the people you suggest as irrelevant, the most important person who is not irrelevant is God – what does God think?

When civil partnerships exclude eg sisters, those who are not in a homosexual partnership, and when a reasonable ground for disolution of a civil partnership is withholding sex, then a civil partnership presupposes sexual activity.

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

The Episcopal Church did not “approve or condone homosexual marriage.” The Episcopal Church recognized that some couples of the same sex live together, and that some of these relationships appear to express the love of God, and that those who seek to find a liturgical expression for this are acting within the bonds of the common life of the church. Whether such relationships are or are not “marriage” was not addressed; and any formal approval of liturgical material along these lines was shelved. Admittedly, what was done was too much for some, but let us at least be precise about… Read more »

Tim Stewart
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Tim Stewart

Lots of people have wondered when the Archbishop of Canterbury would catch on to the Ahmanson-Scaife-IRD-AAC-Network folks. Even providing the selected Primates with cell phones and lists and scripts, the whole Ahmanson-Scaife-IRD-AAC-Network plan was bound to founder on the Primates themselves. I believe the American “usual suspects” don’t have the slightest wish to be part of a huge “continuing” communion, but wish to be in charge of the American branch of the existing Anglican Communion. IMHO it’s hard for the so-called global south Primates to see why they should stay in communion with, say, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England and… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

Thank you, Fr. Haller, for clarifying that the Episcopal Church DID NOT “approve or condone homosexual marriage” at the 2003 GC.

The mis-statements made by the Anglican primates following the leadership of the Primate and Metropolitan of Nigeria are tiresome and very disturbing.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

As far as I know, and I helped draft the LGCM response to Civil Partnerships, we have never welcomed CPs as “Gay Marriage”.

Our “official” LGCM line remains that CP’s should be open to all and Marriage should be open to all. We have welcomed CP’s “as a first step” to the full inclusion of gay families within the legal fabric of British Society.

As I recall a government minister said something similar.

benito!!!
Guest

Frankly, I remain a bit confused about the current status of the new Marriage Act, although I recognize that that CoE will not be allowing any type of same-sex blessings, etc. I think that the problem is that in making clergy promise celibacy – or at least threatening to make them promise this – sexual activity is certainly presupposed. Thus, while many have oversimplified the issue – “civil partnerships” will not become a sacrament any time soon – there remains a ring of truth to the accusation that the CoE is *allowing* all of this to happen and largely indifferent… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

The Marriage Act remains untouched by recent legislation.
The government’s proposal to change parts of it by statutory instrument – relating to the places marriages could take place – and the introduction of a “marriage license” type scheme instead of Banns etc – didn’t pass the scrutiny of the Lord’s Grand Committee who said primary legislation should be used to effect such a change.
There is no apparent provision for this legislation in the Queen’s speech. It may have been shelved.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Simon,

Why do the regulations on kindred and affinity apply to civil partnerships if sexual activity is not presupposed?

Is it not just remotely possible that what the government SAYS it is doing, and what it INTENDS to do in the Civil Partnerships Act, may not be quite the same thing?

And if the Church of England is not in favour of Civil Partnerships as they have come into being in the new Act, then why did eight out of ten bishops vote for the Act in the House of Lords?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan
I suspect that the reasons for retaining the kindred and affinity rules are to prevent successive generations of a family from using CPs to avoid paying inheritance tax, but I might be wrong about that.

I simply don’t understand your final question. Why do you think that the Church of England is opposed to Civil Partnerships?

Alan Harrison
Guest
Alan Harrison

Benjamin wrote:

“The bishops certainly could stand against it and forbid their clergy to enter into these partnerships.”

How could they do so? How would such a ban be enforced? Bear in mind that any synodical ban not subsequently accepted by parliament would be legally unenforceable.

Alan Harrison

JimB
Guest

I am not educated in the nuances of English marrige law — as we Yanks are not an established church, the rules across the pond are somewhat mysterious. I do know at least a bit about our situation and it does relate to establishment. Oddly enough, over here, EVERYONE is established for one or two purposes. A minister of any faith community, Christian or not (yes including “neo-pagans”,) can be licensed to perform the State’s functions in marrying a heterosexual couple in 49 States. In the 50th (Mass.) the couple can be either gay or not. In all 50 States,… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Er, have you read their statement section 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.” Since the government’s presumption is precisely that CPs WILL be predicated on sexual relations, then the Church must logically be opposed to what the government has created in the CPA. The Church might not be opposed to some mythological concept of civil partnerships which it has invented for itself, but since it says it is opposed to the kind of CPs… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan, you lost me again. Show me the wording in the Act which references sexual relations, please?

The wording of an Act of Parliament is the only reliable guide to the meaning of that Act.

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Simon wrote: ‘Alan, you lost me again. Show me the wording in the Act which references sexual relations, please?’

I don’t have the wording of the act but it has been stated that refusal or sexual relations can be grounds for a dissolution. So sexual relations are clearly implied.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Mark and Alan
The wording of the Act contains no reference to sexual orientation or to sexual activity.

What Mark is referring to can be found in Andrew Goddard’s article here:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2005/20050723cpa.cfm

Andrew Goddard’s personal conclusion needs to be distinguished from his report of what a government spokesman said. The intention of the Government is not the issue: the question is the intention of Parliament. That is expressed by the words of the Act.

John Wall
Guest
John Wall

This is a fascinating conversation about the complex ways in which the relationship between the government and the Church plays out in England. But I suspect it has little to do with the future of the Anglican Communion. What now seems to matter is not whether or not the Church of England has or has not accepted gay marriages, but whether or not the Archbishop of Nigeria thinks it has. I gather that the Archbishop of Nigeria is now calling the shots. I hope to be dissuaded of this understanding, since it should be clear by now that the Archbishop… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

So there we have it! According to contributors so far, neither ECUSA, Canada or the CofE have approved gay marriage or homosexual sexuality!!

Nothing has changed ! Except that someone in a homosexual relationship can now be a Bishop, homosexual relationships can be recognised and blessed, and people who disagree and believe that homosexuality is stil sinful are feeling marginalized by their heirachies…

“No change” or Selling Technique ?!

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Simon, Here are some excerpts from the 2004 Civil Partnership Act, from the official text published by Butterworths: Section 1 A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex; …(3) A civil partnership ends only on death, dissolution or annulment. Section 3 Eligibility (1) Two people are not eligible to register as civil partners of each other if— (a) they are not of the same sex, (b) either of them is already a civil partner or lawfully married, (c) either of them is under 16, or (d) they are within prohibited degrees of relationship. Section 8… Read more »

steven
Guest
steven

“[T]he Archbishop of Nigeria is trying to turn the Anglican Communion into a very different kind of religious tradition that it has been.” Hmm. . . Has been when? I’m assuming you’re talking about “religious tradition” instead of intra-communion relations. From that standpoint, it seems clear that the Archbishop of Nigeria is departing from a variety of practices that have developed and/or become entrenched over the last 50 years or so. However, most of the communion seems to believe that he is not turning away from the religious traditions of the Anglican Communion, but back to the religious traditions of… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan
If you want to believe all that, nothing I can say will stop you doing so.
But on the use of the word “annulment” I fear you may be disappointed. The word is used to refer specifically to the process whereby a purported CP is declared to have been void from the outset. The reasons for this can be less exciting than you seem to think, see section 50.
And rest assured I have long since read the entire text of the act.
Butterworths (or Lexis) subscriptions are not required, it can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/20040033.htm

John Wall
Guest
John Wall

Steven, thanks. The Anglican Communion has been a voluntary association of independent religious communities who share a common liturgical tradition and a common historical relationship to the Church of England and thus to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Members of this association have maintained ties both formal and informal and gathered occasionally for mutual support and the sharing of information and understanding. Now, the Archbishop of Nigeria wants to add to that tradition of voluntary association the litmus test of compulsory adherence to his particular interpretation of the theological content of the Christian faith. Such a move goes far beyond traditional… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

Thank you, John Wall, for this articulate statement. It seems to me that the move is towards an international Confessional Church rather than a Communion of autonomous churches. Some will see that as an improvement, others not. But clearly it is a change.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I believe Simon errs in wishing to stick strictly to the letter of the law and implying the government’s intention is of no account. As I recall it is some years since the Lords of Appeal made clear that when interpreting statute they might use what government ministers said when introducing and steering legislation through Parliament. Hence in the Commons: Angela Eagle: It is no secret that the Bill is an attempt to put in place arrangements that are as close as reasonable to civil marriage, but not holy matrimony. All Front-Bench spokesmen and hon. Members who support the Bill… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Martin is correct. I should not have written:
The wording of an Act of Parliament is the only reliable guide to the meaning of that Act,
but rather:
The wording of an Act of Parliament is the most reliable guide to the meaning of that Act.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

This is what the government’s web site has to say about the differences between marriage and civil partnership (quoted in its entirety): “How does civil partnership differ from marriage? Civil Partnership is a completely new legal relationship, exclusively for same-sex couples, distinct from marriage. The Government has sought to give civil partners parity of treatment with spouses, as far as is possible, in the rights and responsibilities that flow from forming a civil partnership. There are a small number of differences between civil partnership and marriage, for example, a civil partnership is formed when the second civil partner signs the… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

As Martin says, the Government’s intentions were/are clearly to provide legal recognition, emulating marriage, for homosexual partnerships. Avoiding the name has reduced resistance in society, and from the church, and given the HoB some wriggle room… though I think the wriggles looks ridiculous to most people who have thought about it. The HoB are spending much of their credibility on this issue !! I suspect they will look increasingly ridiculous when CPs are up and running, and if when the first clergy openly defy their Bishop on TV he does nothing, that will set a precedent that will make discipline… Read more »

Andrew Brown
Guest

Dave, do you really believe that the C of E could provide “parallel provisons for inheritance transfer, etc” witout running into exactly the same problems?

In fact the problems would be even worse. They’d have to get it all through the synod, remember.

J. C. Fisher
Guest

As I read the various comments here, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, conservatives have a point: “let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No.” The CofE *is* fudging this, and their case is persuasive to precisely Slim and None (” . . . and Slim just left town”). On the other, I think there also *is* a case to be made against the . . . overly (and intrusively) *sexualization of EVERYTHING*. Sex *isn’t* the point of a CP . . . and it bloody well shouldn’t be the point of an (opposite-sex) marriage, either!… Read more »

George Conger
Guest
George Conger

What has been the attitude of the RC Church in France to the 1999 Civil Solidarity Act [PACS]? During the debate in 1999, I recall it being suggested RC clergy could take advantage of the act to provide for their housekeepers—-not having more than Franglais to help me, I am not sure this was more than an urban legend.

Has the French experience with PACS and the RC Church been raised in the CoE debate?

Martin Reynolds
Guest

George asks an interesting question. I will try and find an answer.
While same-sex marriages abroad are currently to be recognised as CP’s in Britain, there is a High Court challenge being mounted by people who are unhappy at this.
My partner’s family all live in Canada and we are still mulling over going there for our ceremony. It appears we can have full legal marriage celebrated by an Anglican priest there.
I wonder if bishops will react differently to us if we choose this option rather than a British Civil Partnership?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear George, there are some relevant comments from the Vatican here:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_20030614_family-europe-trujillo_en.html

… but not about whether the priests are using PACS (I guess not given the Vatican’s position!)

Dear Andrew, At least if the HoB had taken something to GS and been turned down then they would have been able to say no to the government (who I’m sure would have been flexible in the curcumstances). By going it alone they gave themselves no option but to agree… and now have to persevere down a road to (what looks to me like) great embarassment, and increasing conflict!!

Dr Abigail Ann Young
Guest

Martin Reynolds writes, “My partner’s family all live in Canada and we are still mulling over going there for our ceremony. It appears we can have full legal marriage celebrated by an Anglican priest there.” Martin, I don’t think that can be so! Certainly, my partner and I could not be married by the priest of the Anglican Church we’ve been attending for the last 25 years. Even the diocese of New Westminister, which blesses same-sex unions, is (as far as I know) only blessing civil marriages, not marrying same-sex couples. Now, that is not to say that some priests… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The French 1999 Civil Solidarity Act [PACS] mentioned by George Conger is explained somewhat here:
http://www.ambafrance-uk.org/article.php3?id_article=349#sommaire_1

(This does not answer George’s question, it merely provides background information.)

Tunde
Guest
Tunde

Always great reading reactions on thinkinganglicans. Well, whatever the govt. calls it, we still choose to see two people of the same sex being allowed to live in a commited relationship reserved for holy matrimony as a dangerous embrace of something God abhors – SIN. Realy wish we can flow with you guys but cannot until are convinced it is not SIN or you see it as so. – How did the Church get into all these?

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Thankyou, Tunde. And that is why I see proactive life and vibrancy in African churches, and derivative social conformity in western ones.

It is an unthinking dogma that there are no simple answers. Third-rate thinkers say that all answers are simple. Second-rate say that all are complex. First rate distinguish between simple and complex on a sliding scale, affirming both the existence of the simple issues and the multitude of the complex ones.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think the CofE’s warped understanding of CP’s is entirely their own. As far as I am concerned, civil partnerships are gay civil marriage in all but name.

As for ‘holy matrimony’, from a bigoted church, I think thats something I would do without even if heterosexual!