The Council of Reform today urged the Church of England’s House of Bishops not to concentrate exclusively upon discussing the issue of the Consecration of Women to the Episcopate when it meets next week, but to focus additionally on the much more pressing and significant issue of the threat to marriage.
Following a 24 hour meeting in Sheffield, the Council issued an urgent statement that said,
“It is understood that Government proposals for a new law on so called “gay marriage” may be imminent and that the proposals may require consummation for a “gay marriage” to be legally valid. Everybody’s marriage will be affected by the result. In law, marriage is a sexual relationship. Incapacity and wilful refusal to consummate a marriage are grounds for annulment, and adultery is one of the five facts which demonstrate irretrievable breakdown. Significantly, it appears that parliament will leave the crucial and delicate task of defining same-sex consummation to the judiciary. However, when consummation is redefined, marriage and marital breakdown are themselves redefined and accordingly the meaning of marriage will be fundamentally altered for all.
Critical as it is to resolve our current difficulties over women bishops, we urge the House of Bishops, during their meeting, additionally to do all that is required to implement immediately a strategy for the preservation of marriage as it has been traditionally understood throughout history and across cultures. We look to them to mobilise the Church in England and specifically the Church of England to defend marriage.
The first priority must be for the Archbishops to invite the leaders of all Christian denominations in this country to ask the millions of Christians in this country to join together in a national day of prayer.
The Council had a fruitful discussion about options for resolving the dilemma over women bishops and continue to pray for a successful outcome to discussions in the New Year.