Although there were several Questions on this topic, none were reached in the course of Friday evening’s General Synod session. The prepared Answers were however made public and may be of interest to readers. So they will be published here in a series of posts over the next day or so, starting with this pair.
Q 44. (Clare Herbert) to Chair of House of Bishops
In the light of the high regard expressed for Civil Partnerships by both archbishops and other bishops recently, such as when the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the House of Lords “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same-sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage” when will the Liturgical Commission be tasked by the House of Bishops to begin work on an authorized rite for the blessing of civil partnerships for the use of those clergy who wish to conduct such services?
Q 45 (David Brindley)
In view of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s view expressed in the House of Lords in a speech on 3 June that faithful same-sex relationships should be ‘recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage’, when will the House ask the Liturgical Commission to produce proposals for appropriate liturgical recognition of those relationships?
Answer from The Bishop of Gloucester
The House of Bishops concluded in December that it didn’t at that point want to revise its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships, which, among other things, had affirmed that clergy ‘should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.’ That was because the Pilling report which the House is due to receive this December and the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which had only just been published then, were going to require us to do some more careful thinking before we said anything further.
The context in which we minister is changing very quickly not least with the real possibility that the number of people entering civil partnership will fall very sharply next year once same sex marriages become a legal possibility. The House will be considering the implications of all this very carefully but there is nothing further that I can usefully say at this stage.