First of all, press coverage so far:
Telegraph John Bingham Church of England bishops: we agree on one thing – that we can’t agree on homosexuality
Religion News Service Trevor Grundy Church of England’s Bishops Defer Gay Marriage Decision
George Conger has written a critique of the preceding item:So what is happening with Anglican gay marriage?
Michael Trimmer Christian Today CofE bishops agree to disagree on human sexuality
And there is coverage in The Times, but it is behind a paywall: Bishops call for honesty in gay debate
Next, comments from lobby groups and bloggers:
Andrew Symes Executive Director of Anglican Mainstream has written The College of Bishops’ Statement on the Pilling Report: a Response
My initial response to this Statement was one of disappointment, but then after attempting to read between the lines I found some cause for encouragement…
Ian Paul has written Why the bishops have done the right thing
…Why do I think College of Bishops have made the right decision? Well, most obviously because their response to Pilling is exactly the one I said in November was needed. The reason for this is more and more evident in public responses, particularly on social media, from all sides of the debate.
On the one hand, many ‘conservatives’ say that there is nothing to be done, and no need any further discussion. I don’t think this takes into account sufficiently the need for the Church of England to develop more credible pastoral response, taking into account what Justin Welby described as the revolution in attitudes within society on this issue.
On the other hand, many ‘revisionists’ agree there is no need for further discussion, but for exactly the opposite reason. It is clear what God is doing in society, and the Church needs to catch up without any further delay…
Peter Carrell Sanity overcomes English bishops
…For myself I am prompted to wonder if (when all is said and done) we are (though we are scarcely aware of it) engaged with a true novelty in the life of the church:
1. a matter on which we disagree so severely that schism always lurks as a possible outcome (and, indeed, has become an outcome in some places) yet not a matter on which any rational, compassionate Christian (in the abstract position of peaceful reflection*) would wish to divide the church for fear that doing so made a scapegoat of a tiny minority;
2. a matter on which the catholicity of our church/Communion is under an unprecedented ‘strain’ (as we try to reconcile the universality of the church implying inclusivity with the universality of the church implying commitment to common doctrine)…
David Pocklington has written Bishops’ statement on Pilling Report
…As we have noted before, the Pilling Report is a report to the House of Bishops, not a report of the House of Bishops and it is therefore unsurprising that: yesterday’s statement emphasized that it was not a new policy statement; and the statement itself did not expand on the report’s conclusions, an unlikely possibility given the strongly held and divergent views within the College . Nevertheless, there are two important points within the statement:
- acceptance of Pilling’s recommendation for “facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level”, these conversations to commence following the approval of the process and materials by the House of Bishops in May; and
- that there will be no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage or to pastoral and liturgical practice during this process of facilitated conversation. Too much cannot be read into the wording, but it would tend to suggest that the introduction of extra-liturgical public services of pastoral accommodation, i.e. blessings of same-sex unions, over the next two years is ruled out, whilst this is may be an option for the future.
If the timetable suggested by the Report is followed, i.e. “without undue haste but with a sense urgency, perhaps over a period of two years”, the formal position of the Church of England is unlikely to change from that expressed in the 2005 HoB statement before mid- to late-2016. Whilst this will be a comfortable two years before the next Lambeth Conference, a potential flash-point for the Anglican Communion, in other respects the delay is unsatisfactory…