Thinking Anglicans

Equality Bill: more Church Times reports

First of all, the articles, letters previously listed from last week are now all available without subscription.

Second, this week’s news report written by me can be read now, see Alteration proposed for Bill.

…The effect of the amendment is to require that the approval of in­dividual religious premises for the registration of civil partnerships needs consents from a “person spec­ified, or a person of a descrip­tion specified” in new regulations to be laid before Parliament after con­sultation with various religious bodies.

The present rule forbidding the use of any religious premises for civil-partnership registrations re­mains in force in the mean time. The amendment specifically allows for distinctions to be made, not only between religious premises and “other premises” but also between different kinds of religious premises. For example, the arrangements for Quakers might be different to those for Liberal Judaism. Nor would it be necessary for the regulations govern­ing civil partnerships to be identical to those relating to civil marriages in the same venue.

A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed on Wednesday that the amendment took account of discussions held with the Govern­ment. The Church of England’s con­cern, he said, was to ensure that the regulations provided for an opt-in or opt-out at denominational level. The C of E (and other denominations) wanted to be able to nominate a national body to declare a position on this issue, before individual ap­plications could be made. This was what the Quakers themselves had done (Comment, 12 March)

And the CT blog has noted that Equality Bill: Amendment allowing civil partnerships in church buildings could be lost, and linked to the letter already published here.

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Father Ron Smith

The Church of England will need to make it’s collective mind up on this issue – through the deliberations of General Synod – which might then devolve the responsibility onto individual Bishops to discuss in their local synod meetings. This will perhaps then require individual parishes, if allowed by the local Bishop, to offer their hospitality, or not, to suitably qualified local partnerships. Whatever happens on this issue, the Church will be judged by the willingness/or not of local parishes to offer Blessings on same-sex Civil Partnerships, which could, in the circumstances, be limited to the Baptised – as in… Read more »