Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, has written this article about the Civil Partnership Act in the August issue of New Directions.
He refers to the Pastoral Statement, of which he is a signatory, thus:
The House of Bishops is on the point of publishing (I write in mid-July) a carefully considered, orthodox Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships; but on 29 May a substantially inaccurate preview of a draft of this Statement appeared in the Sunday Times – and caused consternation as it was circulated around the Anglican Communion among people many of whom can have no understanding of the cultural and legislative world through which we in the UK are now living. (But many of our own people have not woken up to its character either!)
In fact, the article covers several other pieces of legislation, and says only the following about the CPA:
The Civil Partnerships [sic] Act 2004 was designed to meet the needs of ‘same-sex couples in supportive relationships (who) cannot marry but deserve the opportunity of legal recognition.’ It provides for such couples who are not within the ‘prohibited degrees of relationship’ to register their relationship in a Register Office as a Civil Partnership (CP). The Act closely and exhaustively replicates for CPs virtually every provision in law that relates to marriage.
In June 2004, members of the House of Lords, myself among them, sought by amendment to extend the provisions of the (then) Bill to couples (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who are within the ‘prohibited degrees’ (e.g. two sisters, or a father and daughter) and who have lived under the same roof for twelve years. The amendment was carried in the face of government and Liberal Democrat opposition; but the government announced the same day that the amendment so radically altered the Bill’s concept of a CP that it could not proceed with the Bill while the amendment stood part of it – effectively admitting that after all the Bill was drawn up only in the interest of those in same-sex, and sexual, relationships. In due course the Commons removed our amendment and the Lords refused to allow its return.
I recognize that people in same-sex relationships can face some significant disadvantages and injustices which it is right that the government should seek to legislate to rectify – but not by replicating virtually every provision that relates to marriage. To me the CP Act undermines the distinctiveness and fundamental importance to society of marriage by effectively equating same-sex relationships with it, notwithstanding the government’s repeated assertions that this was not its intention.
It is, I judge, this dishonesty at the heart of the CP Act 2004 which will render the Church of England so wide open to mischievous misrepresentation when the Act comes into force in December.
The Church of England website now includes the answers to questions and transcripts of some of the debates from last month’s meeting of General Synod.
Links to the transcripts can be found here.0 Comments
The Church of England Evangelical Council has issued a statement. It is not yet on the CEEC website but can be found at Anglican Mainstream: Civil Partnerships – CEEC Response to Bishops and also on titusonenine.
Update, it is now on the CEEC website as an RTF file, here.4 Comments
Anglican Mainstream has a note about the changes to ecclesiastical law that are being made by the government in connection with the Civil Partnership Act. The item can be read in full here. The hyperlinks in the following extract may prove useful.
This is because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 contains provisions (sections 255 and 259) enabling the Government to amend and even repeal other legislation in order to give full effect to the purposes of the Act. This includes even amending and repealing church law. The power in relation to church law is exercised by statutory instrument approved by both Houses of Parliament.
At the time of writing there is one draft statutory instrument which deals with church law awaiting such approval, and one statutory instrument still being drafted by parliamentary draftsmen. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Overseas Relationships and Consequential, etc. Amendments) Order 2005 proposes to amend four pieces of church legislation: the Pluralities Act 1838, the Parsonages Measure 1938, the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986, and the Church of England (Legal Aid) Measure 1994. The Civil Partnership Act (Judicial Pensions and Church Pensions, etc.) Order 2005 will, as its name suggests, amend the church’s pensions legislation to give protection to civil partners. It is intended that both these provisions will come into force on the same day as the Act itself, namely 5 December 2005.
The relevant portion of The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Overseas Relationships and Consequential, etc. Amendments) Order 2005 is reproduced below the fold.
The following Hansard extract shows what the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville) said in the House of Lords about this, on 19 July:
Schedule 3 to the order amends Church legislation to insert references to “civil partner” and “surviving civil partner” where there are existing references to “spouse” and “widow or widower”. Section 259 enables a Minister of the Crown to make amendments to Church legislation although, as the Committee will be aware, by convention the government do not legislate for the Church of England without its consent. I stress that the provisions in the order amending Church legislation have been drafted by Church lawyers, consulted on internally within the Church, and finally have been approved by the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops. The Church has asked that we include the amendments in the order, which we are content to do. The amendments in Schedule 3 do not cover Church pensions, as those will be dealt with in a separate instrument to be made under Section 255 of the Act.
He raises two issues, one about blessings of such partnerships and one about baptism of children. The key questions:
The bishops said:
18. It will be important, however, to bear in mind that registered partnerships do allow for a range of different situations- including those where the relationship is simply one of friendship. Hence, clergy need to have regard to the teaching of the church on sexual morality, celibacy, and the positive value of committed friendships in the Christian tradition. Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances of each case.
Paul Perkin asks:
…I intend always pastorally and sensitively to decline politely any request for such a prayer affirming a same-sex union. Can you clarify for me ‘the light of the circumstances’ in which you would feel it necessary to discipline me for such a refusal, before I go any further? You might well receive complaints from my parishioners, and it is only fair that the House of Bishops spell out now on what grounds you would be sympathetic to such a complaint.
The bishops said about baptism:
23. The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion. Issues in Human Sexuality made it clear that, while the same standards apply to all, the Church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a faithful, committed relationship….
Paul Perkin asks:
…It is our practice [at St Mark’s] to delay the baptism of heterosexual adults known to be cohabiting outside marriage, giving time for progress in discipleship. Is the House suggesting that this practice is wrong? If I intend pastorally and sensitively to decline politely any request for such a baptism, can you clarify for me the light of the circumstances in which you would feel it necessary to discipline me for such a refusal, before I go any further? Or is the House suggesting that clergy may enquire of heterosexual relationships outside marriage, but may not enquire of homosexual relationships? Or perhaps neither – is the House suggesting that relationships in general fall outside the scope of enquiry of candidates’ genuine repenting and turning to Christ? You might well receive complaints from my parishioners, and it is only fair that the House of Bishops spell out now on what grounds they would be sympathetic to such a complaint.
The other London newspaper correspondents are on holiday, but according to Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph
Gay clergy to defy bishops over no-sex ‘marriages’
‘I am not prepared to give assurances to anybody about my relationship’
This is the first UK newspaper report on the matter to name an overseas bishop, since the Sunday Times squib of 8 days ago.
The website for the petition mentioned in the article is here.
The Living Church has also reported this story:
Nigerian Primate Dismayed by British HOB Response to Civil Partnership Act.
For the weekend:
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about the CofE bishops and civil partnerships, Why you need love and more
Paul Oestreicher writes in the Guardian about The message of Hiroshima
George Coyne the Vatican’s chief astronomer writes in the Tablet about evolution in God’s chance creation
In The Times Jonathan Sacks has a column entitled ‘A clock seems to tick in the history of religions, sending crisis’
Damian Thompson writes in the Telegraph about Ancient fantasies that infect the internet and inspire suicide bombers and Christopher Howse has Christianity’s top 10 ideas4 Comments
A statement by Archbishop Peter Akinola has been published here on THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (Anglican Communion) website: A STATEMENT ON THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S RESPONSE TO CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS BY THE PRIMATE OF ALL NIGERIA
The first published copy appeared on titusonenine
A Statement on the Church of England response to Civil Partnerships by the Primate of All Nigeria
The email distribution came from Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream
Update The statement has now also been published by ACNS here
The text is reproduced below the fold. References in square brackets are to paragraphs of the pastoral statement.50 Comments
Pat Ashworth in the Church Times reports Akinola’s demand to ‘suspend’ C of E viewed with caution:
The Anglican Communion Office has tried without success to contact Archbishop Akinola, who is on holiday until 8 August. Its spokesman, James Rosenthal, said on Wednesday: “We are trying to verify the story from the Archbishop’s office in Nigeria, and have not been able to do that. We are concerned, because it is a very serious matter.” Lambeth Palace said that it could not comment until the story was verified.
Archbishop Akinola is believed to be planning to make a full statement.
Over in the Press Column, not yet on the web, Andrew Brown notes that:
The attribution of the quotes to serious church leaders rather than some random vituperating blowhard on the internet is something that might be missed by a non-specialist. You couldn’t discern it from the language used. They all talk the same way.
The idiots on the internet sound as if they could decide the fate of modern Christianity; the Primates’ opinions have the weightless freedom of email.
The column contains more on this subject…2 Comments
The documents giving the diocesan view of this matter are reproduced here, below the fold.
And this report appeared on TLC Bishop Howe Withdraws Name from Eastern Michigan Censure Letter
A further report on TLC Eastern Michigan Bishop Responds to Critics of His Deposition
If the CAPAC acronym is not yet familiar, read this first
LGCM published a press release The Anglican Communion and the Sunday Times story. A Response from LGCM
Fr Jake has CAPAC; Justifying Criminal Actions
with some really interesting comments
J-Tron has The new “Anglican” alliance and other things that will destroy the Anglican Communion
also with interesting comments, as noted by bls in Never
Update This matter got a tiny mention at the end of the Church Times story on Akinola:
These developments coincide with another new alliance of conservative Anglicans, to be known as the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC), modelled on the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). The plans and a “Covenant of Understanding” were announced by Archbishop Gomez and the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Gregory Venables.
The story deserves more attention than that.5 Comments
Forward in Faith UK FiF Response on ‘on Civil Partnerships’
CEN Andrew Carey Andrew Carey on the C of E Bishops Approach to Civil Partnerships
Agape Press Kendall Harmon Church of England’s Homosexual ‘Marriage’ Compromise Has Theologian Concerned
Simon Barrow BEING CIVIL ABOUT PARTNERSHIPS
Sean Doherty Civil Partnerships in the Church of England
Other bloggers have commented on the previously reported response of Archbishop Peter Akinola
(some of these blog entries also have interesting comments)
Simeon in the Suburbs Pope Peter I of Alexandria
Both ENS and the Anglican Church of Canada have issued press releases about this event which occurred in Toronto recently. This was the third such conference to be held.
Scroll down either of the press releases to find the full text of The Toronto Accord3 Comments