Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement – episode 3

Updated Tuesday evening

Previous episodes can be found here, and then over here. And this one has its own article.

New items:

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Love, grace and the bishops’ pastoral guidance

Changing Attitude Colin Coward
Bishop of Blackburn acts on House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement and
Diocese of Lincoln – Ad Clerum about the Pastoral Statement

Bishop of Oxford Bishop of Oxford speaks on Same Sex Marriage statement

Anglican Mainstream
Fidelity, Naivety and Integrity: the C of E House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage by Dermot O’Callaghan and also
Untheological, incoherent, unhelpful – Bishops, think again! by Thurstan Stigand

Peter Ould The Opening Shots

Updates

Anglican Mainstream has more items:
Andrew Symes The last six days: the story so far and the implications
Michael Nazir-Ali A Response to the House of Bishops Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage

Law and Religion UK David Pocklington House of Bishops’ Statement on Same-sex Marriage
This contains a detailed analysis of the statement from a legal viewpoint, and is worth reading in full.

Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Christianity CoE Bishops’ Statement on UK Same Sex Marriage – Not Truly “Pastoral” full text below the fold.

ANYTHING BUT PASTORAL!

CSCS calls on pro same-sex marriage Bishops to speak out

The Centre for the Study of Christianity (CSCS) supports, unequivocally, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 which enables same-sex couples to celebrate equal civil marriage with effect, in England and Wales, from 29 March 2014. CSCS rejoices with sisters and brothers in Liberal and Reformed Judaism, the Society of Friends, and Unitarian Free Christian Churches who have opted-in, to enable such marriages to be celebrated on their premises. CSCS also recognises that amongst people of faith and none, diverse theological and ideological positions might be held regarding same-sex marriage.

Following its Annual Conference, Redefining Marriage?, held in Birmingham on 15 February 2014, CSCS expresses serious concern at the possible impact of Church of England House of Bishops so-called ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’. This, and the letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, appear to pre-empt the process of facilitated conversation, listening and reflection, called for by the Pilling Report and referred to in the 27 January 2014 Statement from the College of Bishops. The House of Bishops latest statement sets down answers, even before many of the questions have been asked.

Any true pastoral process in the LGBT context should begin with a listening to, and analysis of, the lived experience of people of faith, particularly its LGBT members, their parents, spouses, and families. It should then proceed to reflect on this in the light of developing, and not fixed, understandings of scripture, tradition, and reason. The latter should not rely on un-reformed views of natural law but, discerning the signs of the times, encompass the insights of contemporary thinkers in the fields of gender, sexuality, anthropology and other human sciences. The House of Bishops’ Statement, and indeed the Pilling Report show little evidence of such engagement.

The Bishops’ Statement, if taken as authoritative even for the time being, could lead to pastoral chaos, as well as unwarranted intrusion into the lives and consciences of Church of England laity and clergy. We call upon those Bishops of the Church of England who have hitherto expressed support for same-sex marriage to come out and clearly state whether the House of Bishops Statement of the 15 February 2014 is issued in their name and with their support. If it is not we urge them to disassociate themselves from the Statement, declining to implement its proposed policies and procedures in their Dioceses.

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Father David
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Father David

I think the House of Bishops is beginning to realise that the much heralded “facilitated conversations” is yet another example shewing that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. Pinning their hopes on these talks after issuing their pastoral letter is merely whistling in the dark.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Fundamentally, if a priest wishes to marry their partner, or commit in whatever way they choose, in the integrity of their love, then that cannot be countermanded by a top down authoritarianism. It is a situation that should be shared (and in many cases celebrated) by the local church community (that is, the real community of a church and what they want and believe in conscience). It should be in the hands of the PCC and the actual people living their lives at a local church, and expressing their faith. Not a single priest should be sanctioned or removed from… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

A contrast can surely be made between the Archbishops’ Pastoral Letter and the support given way back in the Swinging Sixties by Archbishop Michael Ramsey in the House of Lords to the Wolfenden Report. For this support Ramsey was much vilified. Viscount Montgomery said of the report “One might just as well condone the devil and all his works” another critic castigated Ramsey for ” the sanction given to sodomy by the Archbishop of Canterbury”. But assisting in its safe passage into Law Ramsey thought that he has helped to make the law ” more humane, more Christian and more… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It’s worth reading this: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/39749/gsmisc960.pdf It appears that so far as the House of Bishops are concerned, adultery is OK, because (point 7) without being relaxed about adultery, they’d be short of bishops (and one bishop would have to get another job, for a start off – I wonder if his “wife’s” husband attended his ordination?). So that’s OK, then. Everything Jesus said about divorce is wrong, because the CofE is short of bishops and it’s not reasonable to expect bishops to live a celibate life. Whereas, everything Jesus said about homosexuality (all, er, none of it) is right, and… Read more »

Turbulent priest
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Turbulent priest

Thurstan Stigand of Anglican Mainstream ended his article thus: “Overall, therefore, the pastoral statement is untheological, incoherent and unhelpful. It will do little to help those in the Church of England to bear a clear and faithful witness to our culture. The bishops need to think again.”

I expect that all the signatories of the petition against the Bishops’ statement would wholeheartedly agree. I certainly do.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Savi Hensman – for ‘Ekklesia” – points out the inconsistency of the Church of England’s treatment of heterosexual and homosexual people in the Church.

Despite the Church’s acceptance of Divorce and re-marriage – seemingly un-scriptural – there seems to be no such liberality towards homosexual people, who actually want to strive for monogamous and faithful relationships in Same-Sex Marriage – with the blessing and recognition of the Church

If Divorcees can be married with the blessing of the Church – despite scriptural inhibition – why on earth should not faithful Same-Sex Couples be given the same chance to model their fidelity?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

With reference to David Pocklington’s analysis, it seems to me that the only way bishops would be able to enforce their guidance on pain of disciplinary proceedings would be by requesting Synod and Parliament to amend the CDM, as happened last year to prohibit clergy membership of racist organisations. Highly unlikely under the circumstances.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

The bishops are being shot down from the right as much as from the left (which being translated means from the homophobes as much as from the gay friendly). Is this then a case of Veritas in Medio Stat? Or of shoddy compromise wobbling and falling between two stools?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Dermot. O’Callaghan’s article on the different understanding of the word “fidelity” within the Gay community is awesomely “wicked” in the newer street wise understanding of that word.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Do the bishops now expect clergy to discuss with the 95% of heterosexual people living together who approach the C of E for marriage the churches teaching and why the couple have chosen to depart from it? How I wonder will that square with recent attempts to increase church weddings?
I wonder what would happen if clergy decided to emulate the late Fr Dilworth Harrison who,where there was fornication, demanded repentance and sacramental confession.If this was refused the couple were married at a side altar,early in the morning,the priest wearing a purple stole.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Doesn’t the splendidly delightfully eccentric Fr. Dilworth Harrison provide the perfect solution in allowing same sex marriage in church? An early morning service in a side chapel with the priest wearing a purple stole, preferably with a reading of the BCP service of Commination (The Denouncing of God’s Anger and Judgements Against Sinners) preceding the marriage! I jest, of course, but this must be how homosexuals feel they are being treated after reading the Archbishops’ Pastoral Letter which is far from pastoral.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit “Is this then a case of Veritas in Medio Stat? Or of shoddy compromise wobbling and falling between two stools?” I don’t see why this cannot be yet another one of those topics where we simply disagree and allow different actions. We’ve just learned with regard to women bishops that it is possible to keep everyone together. Why should that not work for marriage equality? If those churches who actually mean it when they say they welcome us fully were allowed to do so, the problem would slowly erode away and we’d eventually have a conservative fringe that was… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Is ‘Anglican Mainstream’ trying to pretend that it speaks ‘ex cathedra’ since it allows no comment or discussion on its posts?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Michael Nazir Ali takes a swipe at those who made comments on the bishops’ statement before him as if they were merely ill-considered, imbecilic rantings, while his work (we must assume) is thoughtful and magisterial …… he then goes on to tell us precisely …… nothing.

Other than claiming any argument that would improve the lot of gay people would have to be fallacious …..

It is no surprise this man finds himself unemployed……..

John
Guest
John

Father David,

I rest my case. (Joke.)

Pluralist
Guest

It wasn’t that long ago (or perhaps it was) that I was wishing you the best, Erika, because you were leaving. Now you are advocating institutional muddle. Presumably an institution that stands for something has a policy that implies boundaries one way or another around which there might be some fuzziness but not complete contradiction.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr David, did you see Tobias Haller’s “Form of Prayer for a Same-Sex Marriage in keeping with the Pastoral Guidance of the Church of England’s House of Bishops.” Almighty God, who orderest the world in families, and in furtherance thereof didst make Mankind in thine Image, male and female: We give thee thanks for the couple here standing in thy Presence, who, notwithstanding the immediately preceding invocation, have chosen to enter the estate of civil marriage with each other, in disregard of the fact that one of them is not different in gender to the other. Pour out upon them… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Ways round this authoritarianism. 1. Creating a coalition of conscience provides a collective platform which the media can report on. It also creates a solidarity for priests put under pressure. 2. Setting a date from which time coalition churches will ‘a bit more formally’ seek God’s blessing on couples will create a collective focus which challenges bishops to take down *all* those churches, not just single out individuals. 3. Be subversively imprecise and diverse in methods of celebration. Hold quasi-marriages outside a church building or grounds, then come into the church for what may not formally be a wedding but… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pluralist,
it’s precisely because as someone said (bemoaned?) on another thread – people’s loyalties are with their parish not with The Church.
I could not care less whether a conservative church somewhere else digs its heels in and does not bless/marry its gay couples, provided my own church is allowed to do that.

Those gay people who are happy with being discriminated against can then stick with the conservative churches.

We should not forget that despite all the hype this is not a first order issue.

ExRevd
Guest
ExRevd

@Richard Ashby

Is ‘Anglican Mainstream’ trying to pretend that it speaks ‘ex cathedra’ since it allows no comment or discussion on its posts?

No, it just speaks of their laager mentality and unwillingness to engage in any kind of conversation. Also, their website is really hideous, never mind content (if they can lob stones, so can I), but hey, i guess they know best about web design as well. Both things speak volumes about the size of the “mainstream” support this gimcrack organisation must actually enjoy.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I agree with Erika that a sensible solution is the concept of unity in diversity. The whole ‘gay-affirming’ or ‘gay-vilfying’ debate throughout the Communion could be defused for the time being by basing a realpolitik on conscience. If in all conscience a local church community does not agree with gay blessings, or if in all conscience a local church community totally agrees with gay bleesings, then the collective conscience and faith expression of that local church should take priority over any distant top-down ‘authoritarianism’. Of course, one of the problems has been the unwillingness of some parties to accept this… Read more »

Una Kroll
Guest

Thank you Erika. I agree wholeheartedly and expected the House of Bishops to promulgate more conversations on the model that was used in General Synod about women bishops. No one in the Church of England is obliged to marry divorced people if it is against their conscience and that should be the same for homosexual clergy who get married by State law. This is just a punitive episcopal statement, in no way tempered by pastoral wisdom. Una Kroll

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

With us, in our local Episcopal church in Seattle, a beginning was made when our vicar decided that it would be doing right to declare ourselves and Open and Affirming congregation. He wisely realized that this could not occur at once, or by fiat, so we engaged in almost a year’s dialogue, including sermons (which included lay preachers and some from outside our congregation), discussion groups, reading lists… In the end, the congregation was very largely for, and the vestry was unanimous (with one abstention). We have come so far that during our recent search for a new vicar, the… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Hopefully all who value justice above expediency will hear and heed Susannah Clark’s prophetic call to unite and resist authoritarianism. When your leadership turns against you, solidarity is your only chance.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The comparison with the failed Anglican Covenant enterprise is a valid one I believe, Susannah. It galvanised everyone in favour of progress on the status of gay and lesbian people in the Church and wider society into action. And it worked. It was a project which can’t be resurrected. So any remaining obstacles to the acceptance of gay marriage in the Church of England become progressively easier to overcome by a number of incremental steps. First, given that those institutional structures intended to block local change were never put in place, and never will be, more reliance will need to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

As always Interested Observer makes provocative observations and brings relevant information to the table. The document he refers to above in paragraph 11 shows how the Church can move in its doctrine and still value those who hold the conventional, orthodox position: 11. The Church of England’s teaching is that it can be said of two living people that they were married and are no longer married. Nevertheless, the Church of England recognizes the sincerely held convictions of those who do not believe this because, on theological grounds, they hold that marriage is indissoluble. It also respects the convictions of… Read more »

John Sandeman
Guest
John Sandeman

Martin Reynolds makes the point “Interested Observer makes provocative observations and brings relevant information to the table. The document he refers to above in paragraph 11 shows how the Church can move in its doctrine and still value those who hold the conventional, orthodox position:” There is a current attempt at the same sort of process regarding Women Bishops. One of the trickier aspects of that is the provision of a conservative evangelical bishop. This has not been enthusiastically received by posters on this site. But if Martins point that “the Church can move in its doctrine and still value… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

John Sandeman wonders why some liberal voices struggle to welcome the prospect of another conservative evangelical bishop. Perhaps things might improve if some conservative Calvinist Church offered something along the lines of the Ordinariate to give a home to those who see themselves unchurched by the doctrinal changes being contemplated and advanced. Though the Anglican patrimony they might retain could be equally as thin as those who are newly become RCs. We have discovered here on this blog before that the BCP while quoted frequently by this constituency is rarely used. Remembering those who once populated the Catholic wing, we… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Re: Dermot O’ Callaghan’s post on AM…I think Father David his agenda is in the last sentence…Can’t help feeling those who wish to split the Anglican Communion think they have found the issue to do it….and then take up the Reformation where Edward 6th left off.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

‘How, then, are the people concerned meant to be brought to repentance and thus to eternal life? If no one is allowed to address the sinful nature of their behavior, how can they ever turn from it?’ This ‘holier than thou’ attitude is endemic throughout the article by Mr Stigand. I object to being so threatened by hell fire and damnation if I dissent from Mr Stigand’s interpretation of a limited number of biblical passages. His concern for my immortal soul is unwelcome, patronising and intrusive. And I might well ask him whether, in the light of the fact that… Read more »