Thinking Anglicans

Registration of Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises

Church of England press release:

The Church of England has today submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises.

A Church of England spokesman said: “Given the decision that Parliament has already taken to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in the Equality Act 2010, the response focuses on the need to assure that the forthcoming regulations continue to provide unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own convictions and its own internal procedures of governance.

“That means that there needs to be an ‘opting in’ mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”

The full text of the submission that addresses the specific questions raised by the consultation is set out below.

Go here to read it.

Some key passages relating to whether the Church of England will allow its premises to be so used are copied below the fold (emphasis added).

Q2 and Q3: who will be required to give consent?

5. We agree that because governance structures in faith groups are complex and varied, the Regulations should reflect that diversity.

6. In the case of the Church of England the relevant national decision-making body is the General Synod. The two Archbishops are its presidents, and it comprises a House of Bishops whose membership includes all the diocesan and some suffragan bishops, and Houses of Clergy and Laity whose elected members represent, respectively, the clergy and laity of each diocese. The statutory functions of the General Synod include legislating in respect of matters concerning the Church of England (under legislative powers devolved by Parliament) and considering and expressing its opinion on other matters of religious or public interest.

7. The specified body for the Church of England should, therefore, be the General Synod and it should be named for that purpose in the Regulations.

———

Q 21: Other issues

The faculty jurisdiction

35. In English law, all parish churches of the Church of England and a number of other ecclesiastical buildings are subject to the jurisdiction of the consistory court of the diocese. This aspect of the court’s jurisdiction is called “the faculty jurisdiction”. It extends to controlling not only the making of physical alterations to a church building and to the introduction or removal of articles to or from the building, but also the uses to which a church building may lawfully be put with the consent of the bishop through his chancellor.

36. Any non-sacred use of a church building which is subject to the jurisdiction of the consistory court (other than a use which is expressly authorised by legislation) requires the authority of a formal permission – called a ‘faculty’ – from the consistory court in order for that use to be lawful.

37. The registration of civil partnerships in a church building would, as a matter of law, amount to a non-sacred use of that building. It would, accordingly, require the authority of a faculty. The regulations need therefore to be drafted in a way that leave no doubt that that they are without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the consistory court of the diocese.

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A J BarfordRobert ian WilliamsFather Ron SmithDavid ShepherdJohn Roch Recent comment authors
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Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Honestly, when you read these endlessly mean-spririted unpastoral miserable documents emanating from the C of E high-ups, you would naturally assume that Anglican parents never produce any gay children, such is their tone, as if trying to keep dirty aliens out of their nice pure little spaces.

Wake up, C of E: if anyone wants to come into your churches and ask to be blessed – for any reason – this is an opportunity, not a grievous assault!

badman
Guest
badman

Paragraph 37 says:

“The registration of civil partnerships in a church building would, as a matter of law, amount to a non-sacred use of that building. It would, accordingly, require the authority of a faculty.”

Is that right?

I don’t think so.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Not surprising that the CofE, having lost the battle to prevent others from authorising civil partnerships in Church is now desperate to ensure that no autonomous local action is possible. Everything regarding this has to be reserved to General Synod and it wants this written into the new regulations. I wonder whether this is possible. The new regulations will apply to all Churches and denominations and I don’t see how they can tailored to include specific details for each and every one. At the very least this sounds to me like special pleading. At it’s worst it is another attempt… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

More sh-te from high level of C of E.

Very nasty blocking tactics – but so transparent.

And yet so many churches are like gay clubs especially the high ones.

I have no respect for Williams and his bishops. Nor for the Synod which sits back and gets sh-fted by them.;

Go on sliding into further irrelevance, moral vapidity and numerical decline.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

It is now clear that when the C of E authorised same sex relationships for laity, in Issues in Human Sexuality, it was insincere and duplicitous.

I take it the C of E prefers lots of uncommitted relationships and free love to committed monogamous ones ?

As it DECLINES to support the latter.

Paul David Dean
Guest
Paul David Dean

The Church of England as an institution is an embarrassment! I am ashamed to be associated with it. It’s high time for the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe to have a presence in England.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

If the church is worried about government initiatives being arbitrarily imposed upon itself, then the church should disestablish itself from government positions.

In saying that, there are general principles that any and all religions are bound to honour e.g. no blood sacrifices of children.

It is healthy to have discusssion about what is or is not permissible or beneficial. It is not healthy to unfairly use a position of power to thwart others’ access to justice and mercy. It is duplicitious to claim that deprivation is an act of love. It’s not. It’s selfishness and complacency at its worst.

karen macqueen+
Guest

The CofE’s position that only the General Synod can decide if registration of civil partenrships in parish churches will be allowed, at first, seems unexceptional for a hierarchical Church. However, using the portion of CofE law regarding “non-sacred” uses of parish churches, as the rubric under which this decision should be taken, as a matter of law, amount to a non-sacred use of that building”, is profoundly insulting and unconscionably dismissive towards the love between LBGT persons. What an amazing thing for the CofE to state in its official response to the government! This Church has committed to the “Listening… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

It will be interesting to see whether denominations like the Methodists and the URC take a similar line. Maybe it will be like the old days with divorcees…”Sorry we cant help you, try the Methodist Church down the road”. I always thought this equality legislation was going to cause a considerable cause of friction between the C of E and the government.Disestablishment is a process, and I am sure long term these sorts of issues will accelerate it, especially if numerical decline further accelerates.

peter kettle
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peter kettle

Karen McQueen says:’The CofE’s position that only the General Synod can decide if registration of civil partenrships in parish churches will be allowed, at first, seems unexceptional for a hierarchical Church.’

Actually, General Synod is not just hierarchical, but also democratic, in that 2 of its 3 houses are elected, not appointed. I suppose the House of Bishops could block any appproval, but a point would be made about hirarchy and democracy. Bit of a pious hope, of course, but General Synod is not just a rubber stamping body for the Bishops or their legal advisers, as events have sometimes shown.

Robert Ellis
Guest
Robert Ellis

As someone once said “There is so little love around that when you see it you want to bless it!”

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Mark
“Wake up, C of E: if anyone wants to come into your churches and ask to be blessed – for any reason – this is an opportunity, not a grievous assault!”

The way things are going, it will soon not be an opportunity but a miracle!

David Shepherd
Guest

The church recognises lifelong sexual exclusivity as a worthy ideal. However, given the call for the church to perform civil partnerships in a religious setting, does the State, in turn, intend to reciprocate by allowing an added religious flavour to the contracting words used in the civil part of the ceremony? I can’t quite reconcile the considerably higher religious tone and demand of the vow before God and His minister ‘to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony..,for better for worse…till death us do part’ with dull, secular contracting words like: ‘I … take you …… Read more »

Jonathan Kirkpatrick
Guest
Jonathan Kirkpatrick

It is my experience, but it feels weird and rather disloyal, to be a priest of the Church and to be glad that the voice of the church is deemed increasingly irrelevant by so many. It can’t be long before synod members are the only active church members left and they’ll be able to meet in sucessively smaller venues. Meanwhile God’s rainbow people will continue to find places to worship and to ask for God’s blessing on all that is life giving without needing or seeking the established church’s approval. GLBT people know that we are considered to be quite… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Paragraph 37 says:

“The registration of civil partnerships in a church building would, as a matter of law, amount to a non-sacred use of that building. It would, accordingly, require the authority of a faculty.”

Does that mean that, for instance, an organ recital in a church building would require the authority of a faculty?

Nat
Guest
Nat

For many years I have been a regular communicant in various C of E churches, when visiting the UK. But about a year ago I decided to boycott services there – this sort of thing just seems to go on an on, and it is intolerable. It is doubly painful as a very dear friend in the UK is a priest who is appalled as I am – but the church is the church, and I want none of it. Thank God for the Episcopal Church. Do the Powers That be EVER consider how many people they are chasing away… Read more »

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

Jonathan Kirkpatrick –

Thank you for a brilliant contribution!

(It is also exemplary for being informed by head and heart rather than spleen.)

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

Robert Ellis writes: “As someone once said “There is so little love around that when you see it you want to bless it!”

Charming but rather huberistic. Which of us has a blessing to impart? Surely we can only impart God’s blessing….and there is the rub given scripture and the tradition of the church on matters sexual. By what authority could we do this?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David
The reason the State doesn’t permit any religious flavour to civil ceremonies is because the churches lobbied strongly against it in order to retain their position. If you want religion, you go to church, they argued at the time, and the Government responded by accepting this view.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

We know Ed has ceded his authority to Rome(so he says, when it suits him).

But without that clutter anyone may access the spiritual authority within their heart. Indeed, many of us know BS when we encounter it, whether from Canterbury or Rome.

the Peruvian lilies
shining in the morning sun
in a suburban garden

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Do the Powers That be EVER consider how many people they are chasing away with these unseemly goings-on? How many regard the C of E as utterly irrelevant, if not downright wrong? Nat, this is a point which I, and no doubt many others, continually make where ever possible. The extraordinary things is that it is a point which in their response is never, ever, addressed. Purity seems to be more important than people and the CofE is becoming, has become, a club to which you can only belong if you sign up to its rules. Nothing to do with… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Hi Erika, That’s a valid point. However, it’s clear that the proposals accept that there is no longer that unified stance on civil ceremonies for all churches. The State wants to permit civil ceremonies to take place in a religious setting for those churches that embrace the validity of civil partnerships. Surely, churches that accept the proposals won’t now have any such objection to an added religious flavour, in which case, the State should now allow them to vary the contracting words accordingly. At the very least, ‘Till death us do part’ is a commitment that can be owned by… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ed
You’re absolutely right, you only pronounce God’s blessing.

The beauty of this is that God may well not bless what you pronounce blessed and that he may well bless where you refuse the rite.

It is precisely trusting in God’s love, grace and mercy and in the visible fruits of our lives, that we lgbt couples know ourselves to be truly blessed by him.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Ed Tomlinson “Which of us has a blessing to impart? Surely we can only impart God’s blessing….and there is the rub given scripture and the tradition of the church on matters sexual. By what authority could we do this?”

Ed, you really need to decide whether you are writing as an RC priest on here, or are still an Anglican. If the former, then you are obliged to hold that none of the rest of us, as Anglican clergy, has a blessing to impart.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David I believe you are allowed to say “Til death do us part” because that is not an intrinsically religious statement. At our civil partnership I was surprised at what could be said and what couldn’t, and I found the rules to be much more flexible than I had imagined. As long as you don’t mention any religious concepts nor make reference to God, you are fairly free to say or recite what you like. That also goes for music. The ridiculous extreme, and I believe that’s down to worried Registrars not wanting to put a foot wrong, is the… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

For heterosexual couples, the church publishes banns with the phrase ’cause or just impediment’. These are canonical impediments that go beyond the secular framework of legislation.

Are there any possible canonical, rather than mere secular impediments to a civil partnerships taking place in a religious setting?

Rosemary Hannah
Guest

‘Angels’ is on the banned list – as is anything by John Donne – my daughter got round that one – she submitted the words of the ‘Good Morrow’ but attributed them to ‘Anon’. They passed.

Nat
Guest
Nat

>

One is almost tempted to ask what fascist country this is going on in. How deeply, distressingly sad.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

@David Shepherd

The modern form of words for Banns ends

This is the first / second / third time of asking. If any of you know any reason in law why they may not marry each other you are to declare it

The legality of this form was dealt with at last November’s Group of Sessions of the General synod

David Shepherd
Guest

@John:
You are absolutely right. I will read up and find out whether ‘reason in law’ excludes earlier prohibitions in canon law.

Also, how canon law might apply to civil partnerships, if, in future, they were solemnised in an Anglican church setting.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

‘We judge that the approach taken in the consultation paper should be capable of delivering the opt-in approach that we support, given the decision Parliament has already taken.” – C.of E. response to prospect of ‘Blessings’ – It’s a good thing that God does not ‘judge’ in the same way that the church judges – otherwise, there would be no-one in the Kingdom of Heaven. What Mr. Fittall probably means, is that the Church of England chooses to OPT OUT, rather then opt-in. I disagree with Ed Tomlinson who says that only God can bless. The Church has been given… Read more »

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

If the Cof E bishops don’t discipline the new AMIE , how can they hope to keep this out of their churches.

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

“If the Cof E bishops don’t discipline…” – RIW

I don’t think they will be in any hurry to invoke disciplinary procedure after Southwark.