The Church Times reports today on the campaign organised under the title Coalition for Marriage: Petition against gay marriage attracts thousands of names.
THE Government came under sustained attack this week from a coalition of Christian groups and individuals over its plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
The coalition’s petition attracted about 23,000 signatures within 48 hours of its launch, including those of the Bishops of Carlisle, Chester, Exeter, and Hereford.
The Coalition for Marriage, established by the Christian Institute, with signatories from senior officials of Care, the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Concern, and other organisations, accuses the Government of rewriting the legal definition of marriage without widespread public support for the change…
John Bingham at the Telegraph reported earlier in the week: Gay marriage: David Cameron faces church backlash over ‘cultural vandalism’.
Last month the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, publicly voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
But the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, signalled a split within the Church of England on the subject by signalling his support for gay marriage.
Among those who have signed the Coalition For Marriage petition are the Rt Revd Peter Foster, the Bishop of Chester; the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford; the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter and the Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has yet to set out his position on the issue publicly but a spokesman for the Church of England said yesterday: “The Church will respond in full to the government consultation when it is launched next month, and remains committed to the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“Meanwhile, we hope people will think deeply about this question, which is more complicated than it is painted.
“While not standing in the way of same-sex couples in civil partnerships gaining equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples, the Church of England will continue to argue for the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long, not to be changed.”
And today, the Bishop of Salisbury published this statement on his diocesan website: Marriage and same-sex relationships
Statement re: meeting with Dorset clergy on 14 February concerning the Bishop of Salisbury’s comments on same-sex relationships in The Times and on BBC Radio 4
The Bishop of Sherborne, the Archdeacon of Dorset and I met with 10 clergy from Dorset who had contacted me following my remarks on same-sex relationships in an interview published in The Times on 3 February, and on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme on 5 February.
Bishop Graham and I disagree about the appropriateness of using the word ‘marriage’ for same-sex relationships. He expressed his concerns to me privately and in the meeting. We are, however, committed to working together creatively…
Earlier, Bishop Holtam had delivered this presidential address to his diocesan synod. The topics covered include this one, as well as numerous others. But on this point he said:
I am sorry my comments about same sex relationships got such elevated treatment by The Times, when reporting a small part of a wider interview. I hope I got the tone and content clearer in the subsequent interview for BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme. When Civil Partnerships were introduced in 2005, I thought their distinction from heterosexual marriage was helpful. They are an important support to faithful love, and faithful love is a distinctive mark of Christianity because it reflects God’s love of us.
Because the quality and nature of some Civil Partnerships is similar, possibly the same as for married couples, I have come to see that the rapidly adopted name “gay marriage” may be appropriate. As we know, the Government begins its consultation about this next month and that they have already explicitly exempted religious communities from being forced to accept the conduct of homosexual marriage in addition to heterosexual marriage.
In saying what I did, I am trying to create the space for an honest conversation. We have no option but to recognise our context is changing and that we are talking about people, some of whom are within the life of the Church; that we are talking about ‘us’, not ‘them’.
For the avoidance of doubt, the position of the Church of England, House of Bishops and Diocese of Salisbury has not changed. There are no authorised services of blessing for same sex partnerships and it is not possible for Civil Partnerships to take place in Church of England churches. I will, of course, keep to the Church’s discipline whilst hoping that we find opportunity to explore the issues which divide us.