8 January 2013. For Immediate Use
LGB&T Anglican Coalition Press Statement
On the admission of Bishops in Civil Partnerships to the Episcopate
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition welcomes the House of Bishops decision, confirmed on the 4th January 2013, to lift its moratorium of July 2011 on clergy in civil partnerships being nominated as episcopal candidates, even when living in conformity with the House of Bishops guidelines Issues in Human Sexuality.
The Bishops have decided that the requirements in its 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships, whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England, will apply equally in relation to the episcopate.
We had been shocked and saddened by the imposition of the moratorium, pending the outcome of the review of civil partnerships by the House of Bishops working party chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Although the lifting of the ban is only a small step it removes a glaring injustice, and was one of many recommendations in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition’s submission to the Church of England working party on civil partnerships.
However, as we noted in that submission:
It is important that any appearance of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity against those who have made considerable sacrifices (which some might regard as excessive) to comply with current church teaching be avoided… any attempt to deter or exclude such candidates by singling them out for intrusive questioning, or because their views on the theology of sexuality differ from the current Church of England position when in fact bishops have a wide range of opinions on all manner of theological issues, is not only unjust and hurtful to the individuals concerned but also damaging to mission and ministry.
We are glad that the House has addressed this particular issue, but are surprised and disappointed that this appears to be the only outcome, even though the review was expected to be complete by the end of 2012. We look forward to seeing the full report. The recent unveiling of the government’s equal marriage proposals makes the House of Bishops review of civil partnerships even more relevant and we urge the House to publish its report as soon as is practically possible.
We also look forward to hearing from the wider review by the House of Bishops working party on sexuality which is chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling and which is due to report later this year.
With the outcomes of these two major working parties at its disposal, together with Archbishop-elect Justin Welby’s commitment to end church-based homophobia and to listen carefully and prayerfully to LGB&T people, the Church of England is well placed in 2013 to become a more generous, humane and Christian community for the people we represent, their families and supporters. We believe that valuing and supporting committed and loving partnerships, regardless of whether the partners are celibate, is vital for the integrity and credibility of the Church’s mission and ministry.0 Comments
Updated again 10 pm
Melanie McDonagh writes for the Spectator that Gay bishops and women bishops are not the same issue.
Giles Fraser writes for the Guardian Why gay bishops have to lie.
Colin Coward wrote at Changing Attitude Civil partnerships, the episcopate and the House of Bishops furore.
LGCM issued this press release: Go-ahead for bishops in civil partnerships welcome first step.
The Independent has this editorial: The unholy row over gay Christians.
Catholicity and Covenant has published two articles: Charity, moral imagination and discipleship: some reflections on the CofE House of Bishops statement and GAFCON, the CofE and civil partnerships.
Colin Coward has published again at Changing Attitude Archbishop of Kenya criticizes C of E decision on partnered gay bishops.
And, Colin has asked, and received, responses to queries from both the Bishop of Sodor & Man, and the Secretary General. Read about them in
Changing Attitude asks for Sodor and Man working party report to be published and then in
Why did the HoB take a decision about the eligibility of clergy in CPs becoming bishops?
The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali has weighed in here.15 Comments
The BBC reports on a Mixed response to CofE decision to allow gay bishops.
Emily Dugan writes in The Independent that a Fresh storm hits C of E after move to allow gay bishops.
Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer that Gay sex is in the closet, but don’t blame the church.
Victoria Wright in The Independent has these useful Dos and Don’ts for gay Bishops in the Church of England.
On BBC Radio 4 yesterday Norman Russell and Peter Selby debated the issue on the Today programme, and later Giles Fraser and Lynette Burrows debated it on the PM programme (between 17 min 23 sec and 24 min 20 sec).
And this morning there was Richard Harries and Michael Lawson on the Sunday programme (between 34 min 28 sec and 43 min 32 sec).
Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent that the Primate of Kenya hits out at Church of England lifting of gay bishop ban.
The primate’s full statement can be read on the Anglican Mainstream website.
Alan Wilson writes A chink in the walls of Kafka’s Castle?
For Ekklesia Symon Hill writes Gay bishops: C of E offers crumbs from the table
and Savi Hensman writes The Church of England and gay bishops – has sexuality policy shifted?.
Taylor Carey writes for Lay Anglicana about Men in Pink: The Church of England’s Gay Bishop Decision.
Carrie Pemberton writes No sex please, we’re gay British bishops.
Archbishop Cranmer writes that Homosexuality is an issue blown out of all proportion.28 Comments
Hannah Meltzer in the New Statesman asks What makes a gay vicar stay in the Church of England?.
Lynne Tuohy of Associated Press writes First Gay Anglican Bishop Reflects on Tenure in NH.
Anglicans Online offers us 12 reasons to be a cheerful Anglican.
Jerome Taylor writes for The Independent: Happy, clappy, and out of the closet: Evangelicals who say being gay is OK.
Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian that St Paul’s ‘body as a temple’ didn’t have today’s calorie obsession in mind.1 Comment
On Thursday, before the press announcement of Friday, Fulcrum published a long article by Andrew Goddard titled Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships.
Tucked away within a wider press release just before Christmas it has been announced that at their December meeting the Church of England’s House of Bishops decided that “the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” and that “the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”. The announcement is already beginning to gain attention and speculation as to its significance including at Changing Attitude and Thinking Anglicans but its full import remains largely unconsidered. What follows seeks to set this decision in context and highlight important questions that remain unanswered and issues that need addressing…
This evening, Anglican Mainstream has issued this statement:
As made clear in the Ordinal, Bishops of the Church of England promise both to fashion their own life and that of their household according to the way of Christ and to be guardians of the Church’s doctrine. Given the ambiguous nature of civil partnerships, it would not be credible for a person in such a partnership to make such promises. Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not. This is presumably why many clergy in such partnerships refuse to “give assurances” to their bishops that theirs is a “non-sexual” relationship. Since a decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church’s doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone. Otherwise it looks too much like salami-slicing away at the Church’s teaching. A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church. Such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.
Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Secretary)
The Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council has issued this statement:
PRESS RELEASE from the Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council
At the very least, the House of Bishops’ “Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate”, will spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age. By its timing, the Bishops appear stung by the national reaction of outrage to the rejection by General Synod of legislation to legalise the consecration of women as Bishops. If by this statement they are trying to mend fences with the general populace, showing they are truly in touch with the mind of the nation, they are profoundly out of touch with the reality of civil partnerships, most of which are seen as a focus for sexual activity, not simply an arrangement for tax purposes.
Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives. Yet the Bishop of Norwich has reported that the House of Bishops believes it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. As an argument, it has some merit. But the fact is this is not a justice issue, it is an issue of example setting to the nation. It is no surprise the BBC reported the statement as “Church removes bar to gay bishops”. That’s all most people will hear, even though under the media breath there is reference to the requirement of celibacy and traditional teaching.
The church has a poor record already on that kind of discipline. And while some Bishops are known to duck the question, the watching world may well conclude that same sex relationships are simply OK for followers of Jesus Christ. What will happen if same sex marriage is finally approved? Will the House of Bishops have another meeting to approve the next step: bishops married into same sex partnerships? Will anybody then believe there can be gay marriage without gay sex. Christians are supposed to be different and follow the teaching of Christ. The House of Bishops knows that, but on the face of the present statement they appear more concerned to avoid criticism from the watching world than to be faithful to scripture, and wise in the timing and content of its public pronouncements.
Venerable Michael Lawson Chairman, the Church of England Evangelical Council
Anglican Mainstream has also reproduced its 2005 letter to the House of Bishops.24 Comments
Before today’s press release which was issued at 5pm (see preceding article) this topic had been reported on by the Church Times this morning, and also covered in this earlier TA article, dated 28 December.
This morning’s Church Times article: Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics by Ed Thornton.
…Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).
The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson’s group.
The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.
This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops…
This news report was updated at 5 pm to include the press release statement from the Bishop of Norwich.
Subsequently, there have been numerous media reports:
Guardian Peter Walker Church of England rules gay men in civil partnerships can become bishops and
at Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay bishops ruling makes Church of England’s position more coherent
Telegraph Sam Marsden Anglican church lifts ban on gay men in civil partnerships becoming bishops
Independent Jerome Taylor Gay bishops allowed – but they can’t have sex and
A gay bishop might be the painful medicine the Anglican Communion needs
The Church of England today issued a press release with this title: Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate.
The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, today issued the following statement on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England:
“The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005 did not address specifically whether clergy who entered such partnerships should be considered for the episcopate. What the House has now done, following the work undertaken by the group chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man set up last year, is to look at the matter again last month.
“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. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.
“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case.”
The House of Bishops issued a statement detailing the business carried out at their meeting on 20 December 2012 which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/house-of-bishops-summary-of-decisions-published.aspx
Paragraph 7 of that statement reads “The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.”
The statement follows on from the House of Bishops consideration of this matter on 1st July 2011 “Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships: a statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England” which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2011/07/civil-partnerships-and-same-sex-relationships-%E2%80%93-a-statement-by-the-house-of-bishops-of-the-church-of-england.aspx
The 2005 statement “House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships” can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2005/07/pr5605.aspx
When republished by the Anglican Communion News Service this article had the following additional note:
Editor’s note: From House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships 25 July, 2005 ‘The House of Bishops,’ [the statement] says, ‘does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.’
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. ‘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.’
And when republished by Episcopal News Service it had an even longer additional note:
…The 2005 statement said in part that House of Bishops “does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.”
That 1991 document said that “clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships. Because of the distinctive nature of their calling, status and consecration, to allow such a claim on their part would be seen as placing the way of life in all respects on a par with heterosexual marriage as a reflection of God’s purposes in creation. The Church [of England] cannot accept such a parity and remain faithful to the insights which God has given it through Scripture, tradition and reasoned reflection on experience.”
Despite the need “to avoid public scandal,” the document rejected possible calls for bishops to be “more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships,” First of all, the bishops said, it would be “grossly unfair” to assume that two people of the same sex living together were “in some form of erotic relationship.” Second, “it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members and, and not carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure they are behaving themselves.”…
Law & Religion UK has published an article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: some reflections. This is of Anglican interest as the Monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The Succession to the Crown Bill aims to achieve three things:
- primogeniture gender neutrality;
- removal of marriage to Roman Catholics as a disqualification for succession; and
- limitation to the first six in line to the throne of the sovereign approval requirement for proposed marriages.
The content of the proposals is admirably explained in the relevant House of Commons Library research paper RP12/81.
The answer (it’s 4 February 2013) has been placed on the Archbishop of Canterbury website.
When will Justin Welby officially become Archbishop of Canterbury?
Dr Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, stepped down from the position on 31st December 2012. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, was named as his successor on 9th November 2012.
Bishop Justin’s name was submitted to the Prime Minister by the Crown Nominations Commission after a consultation process to determine the needs of the diocese, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Consideration of the candidates took place over several months, then the Commission voted to identify a recommended candidate and a second appointable candidate. These names went forward to the Prime Minister.
In this case the recommended candidate was Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham. The Queen approved Justin Welby for election to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, and an announcement was made by 10 Downing Street on 9th November 2012.
On 10th January 2013, the College of Canons will meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Bishop Justin as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown confirming that the See of Canterbury is vacant.
A legal ceremony, the Confirmation of Election, will take place on 4th February 2013 at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Dean of Canterbury will confirm to a commission of diocesan bishops that Bishop Justin has been elected according to statute. At this point, the office of Archbishop is conferred on Justin Welby – until then he remains Bishop of Durham.
The Enthronement will take place on 21st March 2013 at Canterbury Cathedral. The new Archbishop will be placed on two thrones – the diocesan throne in the Cathedral Quire as the Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, and the Chair of St Augustine as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Law & Religion UK has published 2012 and 2013: retrospect and prospect.
This is a very comprehensive review of recent and forthcoming issues of a legal kind that affect Christians in England, and the Church of England in particular. Some of these have been discussed here previously, particularly those that relate to equality legislation or to discussions at General Synod.
The whole article is well worth a read, but in particular do scroll down to find a very valuable list of Bills before Westminster Parliament, 2012–13, and also a list of cases currently before the European Court of Human Rights.
The list of events in 2013 include:
10 January: the College of Canons to meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Justin Welby as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown.
4 February: Ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral where the Dean of Canterbury will confirm to an episcopal commission that Justin Welby has been elected and will then become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
21 March: Enthronement of Justin Welby at Canterbury Cathedral as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Paul Bagshaw is publishing an important series of articles on his blog about the electorate for elections to the House of Laity of the CofE General Synod, and of diocesan synods. In them he argues that this electorate should be all those on parish electoral rolls, rather than the lay members of deanery synods as it is a present.
He starts with
in which he writes:
The present system
At the moment those on the electoral roll of a church vote for Deanery Synod members. These people then vote for Diocesan and General Synod members.
This system of indirect voting means that there is no accountability from governing bodies to the people in the pews – the people who very largely pay for the Church. Where there is no accountability, the people don’t count.
The consequences of change
It isn’t possible simply to change the voting system as though it was a technical matter with no other implications.
- The marginalization of the laity is a cornerstone of our present synodical system.
- To change the franchise would be to change the whole set of relationships which currently structure the church – clergy:laity, diocese:parish, General Synod:parish.
- Inevitably too the present kingpins in this structure – bishops and parish clergy – would also have to modify the ways they work and their relationships with the people around them.
The fundamental change will be to treat each enrolled member as a fully adult member of the Church. I think such change will be beneficial – and equally that it will be resisted.
Subsequent articles to date are:
How we got here (briefly)
One member : One vote – simple!
General Synod votes for direct election of lay representatives (almost)
2011 debate on lay representation – background paper 1
2011 debate on lay representation – background paper 2
Let’s have a review – the GS debate on representing the laity, 2011
The articles can also be all be read on this one page.
Paul Bagshaw has also written this background article
and this related article: