Thinking Anglicans

Church Commissioners questions – Civil Partnerships

The new Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, on behalf of the Church Commissioners. There is a transcript of the questions and answers here. Questions were asked about LGBT+ equality, civil partnerships, church buildings, church schools and universities, HS2, and Christians in Nigeria.

Readers may be particularly interested in the question on Civil Partnerships.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Whether the Commissioners were consulted on recent guidance by the Church on civil partnerships; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Selous: I am accountable for the Church of England in this place. The Church Commissioners are not consulted on announcements by the College of Bishops. The archbishops have since apologised for the division and hurt caused by the pastoral statement.

Mr Bradshaw: Regardless of that, I think it was discourteous of the bishops not to inform the Second Church Estates Commissioner. The legislation was passed overwhelmingly in this House with all-party support. It is bad enough that the Church still treats its LGBT+ members as second-class Christians, but to say to the child of a heterosexual couple in a civil partnership that they should not exist because their parents should not have had or be having sex is so hurtful. Will he tell the bishops that unless this nonsense stops serious questions will be asked in this place about the legitimacy of the established status of the Church of England?

Andrew Selous: I will certainly feed back the right hon. Gentleman’s strongly felt concern on this issue to the College of Bishops. In their apology, the archbishops did recognise that the pastoral statement had jeopardised the trust that has been built up as part of the Living in Love and Faith project, which is intended to discern the way forward for the Church of England on this issue.

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Richard Allen

Well said Ben Bradshaw. But then surely the C of E gave up all legitimate claims for be the established church when it took exemptions, actual or through practice, from the Equality Act 2010 around the protected characteristics of age, gender, sexual orientation and marriage/civil partnerships. Looks like vast swathes of the population have worked this out as well.