This afternoon Synod moved onto a debate about Civil Partnerships and passed this motion.
That this Synod
(a) acknowledge the diversity of views within the Church of England on whether Parliament might better have addressed the injustices affecting persons of the same sex wishing to share a common life had it done so in a way that avoided creating a legal framework with many similarities to marriage; and
(b) note the intention of the House to keep their Pastoral Statement under review.
The final motion was very different from the original below proposed by the Revd Paul Perkin.
That this Synod, deeply concerned that
(a) in an understandable desire to remedy injustice and remove unjust discrimination, the Government’s Civil Partnership Act undermines the distinctiveness and fundamental importance to society of the relationship of marriage;
(b) the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement, while reiterating the Church’s basic teaching on marriage, has produced a recipe for confusion by not stating clearly that civil partnerships entered into under the CP Act would be inconsistent with Christian teaching;
(c) the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement has given to bishops the task of ensuring that clergy who enter into these partnerships adhere to church teaching in the area of sexuality without giving the bishops the clear means to do so; and
(d) by declaring that lay people who enter into such partnerships should not be asked about the nature of their relationship, in the context of preparation for baptism and confirmation, as well as for the purposes of receiving Holy Communion, the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement has compromised pastoral discipline at the local level:
declare its support for bishops, clergy and other ministers who continue to minister the godly discipline required by the scriptures and the canons and request the House of Bishops to set up a study of the ways in which that discipline is being applied and the implications thereof for future pastoral guidance and bring a report to Synod by the July 2007 Group of Sessions.
The House of Bishops were not happy with this and, on their behalf, the Bishop of Liverpool proposed this amendment.
Leave out all words after “this Synod” and insert the words:
(a) acknowledge the diversity of views within the Church of England on whether Parliament might better have addressed the injustices affecting persons of the same sex wishing to share a common life had it done so in a way that avoided creating a legal framework with many similarities to marriage;
(b) recognise the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as a balanced and sensitive attempt faithfully to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships; and
(c) note the intention of the House to keep the matter under review.”
Not wishing to accept the implied endorsement of the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement the Revd Paul Collier successful proposed the following amendment to the Bishop’s amendment..
Leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert:
“(b) note the intention of the House to keep their Pastoral Statement under review.”
The Bishop’s amended amendment was then carried to produce the final version of the motion at the top.
There was another amendment to the Bishop’s amendment, but as it referred to a section of text removed by Paul Collier’s motion it lapsed. We give it below for the record.
In paragraph (b) after the words “civil partnerships” insert the words “, in the light of legal advice given to the House of Bishops, which this Synod urge the House to make available to it”.