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Posts Tagged ‘Church of England’

CoE plan to bless gay couples’ civil partnerships?

In Marriage and family on January 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

The Church of England is considering allowing gay couples to have their civil partnerships blessed  in church.

Insiders have told The Mail on Sunday that a top-level panel of bishops set up to review the Church’s policy on homosexuality is actively discussing the issue.

If the reform is approved, vicars would be permitted to conduct a  formal blessing service in church for a same-sex couple who have earlier ‘tied the knot’ at a register office.

Claire Balding Civil Partnership

Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

But any move to relax the ban on such blessings would provoke the biggest split yet in the Church, which is already reeling from rows over women and gay bishops.

One option the panel is expected  to consider is a compromise under which gay couples seeking a blessing could be asked to declare they intend to remain celibate, in line with official Church teaching.

But this could create a backlash among gay couples, who would regard it as demeaning to be quizzed about their private lives.

A source close to the working party said that a ‘wide-ranging discussion’ was under way covering a ‘whole range of options’ and recommendations will be made to the House of Bishops later this year.

– more at  Mail Online.

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Anglican stance on same-sex marriage ‘morally contemptible’, says gay cleric

In Marriage and family on August 15, 2012 at 11:14 am

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, accuses Rowan Williams of hardening the Church of England’s attitude to gay marriage

Rev Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a “morally contemptible” policy on same-sex marriage, denouncing it for moving “in the opposite direction” to society and criticising Rowan Williams for changing his “public position” on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, writes that, by setting themselves against same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Church have prioritised the union of the Anglican communion over the rights of gay Christians.

“This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible,” he writes in an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian. “Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

John writes that, contrary to the expectations of those who had expected Williams to introduce a new tone in the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the Church’s line has in fact “continued to harden” during his near-decade as Archbishop of Canterbury.

John – who was forced to withdraw his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 due to fury from conservative evangelicals – says that as Archbishop of Wales Williams had made the case for an ethical framework for gay relationships. “Tragically, he changed his public position as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine,” he adds. “Since then the Church’s line has continued to harden.”

In Permanent, Faithful, Stable, republished this week as Anglicans prepare for a stormy autumn of debate over same sex marriage, John outlines the theological case for gay people in stable and faithful relationships to be offered the same recognition as heterosexual couples. While superficially there is “little difference”, he writes, between civil partnership and marriage, the official distinction “helps perpetuate a distinction in status”.

via The Guardian.

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Clegg joins campaign for gay marriage in church

In Marriage and family on July 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

The fight for gay equality won a boost today after Nick Clegg revealed he will push for same-sex marriages in church.

The deputy prime minister told the Evening Standard that religious organisations should have the choice to hold same-sex weddings if they wanted.

“I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn’t force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn’t stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage,” he said.

The comment takes the prime minister’s promise to legalise gay civil marriages one step further. Under the present consultation on gay marriage there is no option for willing churches to be able to hold same-sex ceremonies.

Yesterday, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper held a conference in Westminster with leaders from the Quakers, Church of England and liberal Jews to push for gay marriages in church.

“I have a very strong sensation that once the dust settles everyone will look back and think, ‘what on earth was the controversy about?'” Clegg said.

“It just seems a perfectly natural thing to do. I don’t think it is anything to get hot under the collar about, or aggressive or polemical.”

However, the topic is still causing deep rifts within religious organisations and Tory MPs.

Canon Chris Sugden of the pressure group Anglican Mainstream said: “If you remove gender from marriage, then nobody ends up married.”

– Politics UK.

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UK Religious Leaders Launch Campaign to Back Civil Gay Marriage

In Marriage and family on July 4, 2012 at 8:03 am

Religious figures who support gay marriage will today launch a fightback against church leaders who have come out against same-sex marriage.

Representatives from the Church of England, liberal Jews, the Quakers and the Unitarian and Free Church will join forces at Westminster to declare their backing for the Government’s plans to legalise civil gay marriage, which have provoked strong opposition from leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches.

Some faiths want the Coalition to go further by giving churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriage.

Those attending the conference will include Giles Fraser, a priest who resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral last autumn following the Occupy protests; Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for the Quakers; Rabbi Roderick Young; Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; and the Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

Mr Parker said the Quakers believe that all committed relationships are of equal worth.

“The new proposals allow civil partnerships in Quaker meeting houses, but that is not a marriage; it is a legal contract, not a spiritual one,” he said. “We don’t seek to impose this on anyone else. For Quakers this is an issue of religious freedom.”

Rabbi Young, who will represent the Movement for Reform Judaism at the conference, said: “The proposal to extend civil marriage to gays and lesbians is greatly to be applauded. However it is not enough. It is a bizarre situation when lesbian and gay rabbis may perform a legal religious marriage for heterosexual couples, but are denied the right to experience that joy for themselves with their partners.”

Today’s meeting has been organised by Labour, which backs David Cameron and Nick Clegg in their efforts to bring in gay marriage, despite vocal opposition from many Conservative MPs. Labour also wants the Government to give churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriages – without forcing them to do so by law.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said last night: “Many religious organisations and people within different faiths support same-sex marriage.

“Whilst opposition from some church leaders has been strong, other prominent church figures are supporting same-sex marriage. It should be recognised that there are many views within and between different faiths. If you believe in religious freedom, those organisations that do want to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies should be allowed to do so.”

She said Mr Cameron must not be deterred by opposition within his own party and beyond and urged him to call an early debate in Parliament rather than stall on the issue.

The Government is expected to reject the calls to allow churches to “opt in” to religious same-sex marriage, a proposal which could fuel the Conservative revolt on the issue.

But church leaders fear the planned civil marriage law would spark legal challenges in the European Court of Human Rights by gay rights campaigners, which would force churches to conduct religious same-sex marriage against their will.

– more at  The Independent.

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Christians must confront their own ‘disgust’ over homosexuality, says Archbishop

In Homophobia and bullying, Sexual Orientation on June 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Dr Rowan Williams acknowledged that the Church was still “scratching its head” about where it stands on issues like same-sex marriage despite its vocal public opposition to the Government’s plan to legalise it.

In his most frank public comments to date on the subject, the Archbishop accepted that the Church was in a “tangle” over homosexuality.

On one hand many Christians may themselves be “wrestling” with their own sexuality while others appeared to display only strong feelings of revulsion, he said.

The issue of women bishops – due to come to a head at the Church of England’s General Synod in York next week – was another matter which helped give the impression that sex was “the only thing the Church is interested in”, he remarked.

His comments came during a discussion day for a group of Christian teenagers at Lambeth Palace.

 – full report at Daily Telegraph.

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(Anglican) Bishops rebel against Church marriage policy

In Marriage and family on June 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Two bishops have broken ranks to speak out against the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has been one of the most prominent opponents of same-sex marriage,

They say that the Church’s official position does not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.

Their intervention comes as critics prepare to challenge the policy at General Synod next month, exposing faultlines within the Church.

It now faces a second highly divisive row in the coming weeks – as the leadership struggles to avoid a disastrous split over women bishops.

Two weeks ago the Church published its formal response to the Government’s proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry, declaring itself firmly against the move.

The two bishops are the most senior figures to attack the stance. The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said: “The statement is narrow and legalistic … Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he said a certain amount about loving your neighbour as yourself.”

The Rt Rev Tim Ellis, the Bishop of Grantham, said the official position did not reflect the true “mind” of the Church.

Bishop Ellis said he was concerned about the “freedom” of bishops like himself and objected to being bound by a “party line” on the issue. “In truth, the bishops in the media have not spoken for me or the way in which I understand this thorny matter,” he wrote on his blog, “and I suspect they do not speak for a sizeable minority or even majority within the life of the Church.”

 Bishop Wilson said: “The statement doesn’t speak for me at all, frankly. There is a groundswell of opinion that says, ‘This does not speak for us.’

“That’s just a matter of fact. It corresponds with the feedback I’m getting, and other colleagues are having the same experience. There is a sea change going on.”

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