The Church Times reports: Second Commissioner responds to MPs’ questions on Prayers of Love and Faith
The full texts of both questions and answers can be found at They Work For You, starting here. For convenience, the substantive content has been copied below the fold.
Update This Church Times article also includes information on voting in the House and College, some of which is additional to that in the previous report:
…In September, the College of Bishops voted 72-26 to “recommend to the House that we continue the work on pastoral provision, to extend this to clergy who enter into same-sex marriages”.
They also agreed, by a margin of 81-17, that there should be “no questions around sexual intimacy” put to “clergy in same-sex civil partnerships”.
The House of Bishops also voted in favour of a motion stipulating that the pastoral guidance should remove all barriers to clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, albeit by a narrower margin: 18 votes to 15.
The House agreed, however, by a vote of 23-13, to delay the publication of such pastoral guidance until “further work” had been done — a decision that was announced last Friday, when an update on LLF was published in advance of the next month’s General Synod meeting…
Q. What physical acts the Church refers to when teaching that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is forbidden.
A. The Living in Love and Faith process has always sought to recognise that the expression of sexual intimacy between two people cannot be reduced to a small set of defined actions.
Q. Whether the General Synod papers on Living in Love and Faith circulated on 20 October 2023 reflect the current position of the (a) House and (b) College of Bishops.
A. Drafts of the material presented in the November Synod papers were seen and commented on by the College of Bishops and House of Bishops at their respective meetings on 18th September and 9th October. The papers for the November meeting of General Synod were drafted and agreed by the Chairs of the LLF steering group based on this feedback and noting the diversity of opinions held by the bishops.
Q. Whether a draft form of Pastoral Guidance for Ministry has been (a) prepared and (b) shared with the (i) House and (ii) College of Bishops.
A. Drafts of the section on Ministry in the Pastoral Guidance were shared with the College of Bishops and House of Bishops and on both occasions they asked for further work to be done. It is hoped that this will be completed as soon as possible, and I recognise that some are disappointed that this is not being brought to the November Synod.
Q. Whether a further letter threatening legal action was sent to the (a) House and (b) College of Bishops between the end of the meeting of the College and the House meeting in October.
A. Several items of correspondence were received over this period from a number of groups with different views, reflecting differing legal and theological opinions, as is widely in the public domain. Some offered a legal opinion on the routes of commendation or authorisation for the Prayers of Love and Faith, but I am not aware that any directly threatened the recipients with legal action.
Q. Whether there are recorded majorities in the (a) House and (b) College of Bishops to (i) allow clergy to enter into same-sex civil marriages and (ii) remove the stipulation that currently requires celibacy for clergy in same-sex relationships.
A. The proceedings of these meetings of the House of Bishops and College of Bishops, including details of votes, are confidential. Both the College and the House decided that further work should be done on allowing clergy to enter into same sex marriages, and on the stipulation that currently requires celibacy for clergy in same-sex relationships. It is stated in the General Synod papers (GS2328 and annexes) , that there is ‘further work on the Ministry elements of the Pastoral Guidance including on clergy in same-sex marriages’. It is hoped that this work will be done as quickly as is possible.