C. of E. Reluctant to Extend Marriage to Include Gays

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

CofE marriage report: last November’s Questions in Synod

At the General Synod meeting last November, some Questions were asked about the report that has recently been published.

The full transcript of Questions and Answers is available here, but the section relating to the report (pages 43-44) is copied in full below the line.

Readers may wish to ask themselves whether the report that has now been published fits the description given in the answer:

…The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since.

The full text of the 1999 document mentioned above can be found here: Marriage: A Teaching Document (PDF).

18. Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops: Is it the case that the Faith and Order Commission has been invited by the House of Bishops to undertake work in relation to the Church’s teaching on marriage and, if so, who will be conducting that work on the Commission’s behalf?

19. Miss Rachel Beck (Lincoln) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Given the concern expressed at the last group of sessions that the full diversity of beliefs on the issue of same-sex marriage that exist within the Church were not fully represented in the response submitted to HM Government’s consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage, can the House ensure that in any request for work in this area to the Faith and Order Commission it would be encouraged to look at the subject in all its fullness, a fullness which includes debating the possibility of blessing same-sex marriage?

The Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu), replied as Chairman of the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee: With permission, Chair, I will answer these Questions together.

At a meeting of the House of Bishops Standing Committee earlier this year the Bishop of Coventry, as chair of the Faith and Order Commission, asked whether the Committee wished the Commission to undertake any further work on the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since. The work is now well advanced.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark)At best, this sounds like a missed opportunity, given the amount of recent work on these matters, which deserves more serious –

The Chairman: You are making a speech, not asking a question.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark)I am coming to the question – which deserves more serious consideration than is possible in a short document. Who is advising the Commission and when will the report be published?

The Archbishop of York: That document has been asked for by the Standing Committee of the House. It will then go to the House of Bishops to decide how, when, where and what will be published after consultation with the House. That is the process

Posted by Simon Sarmiento (Thinking Anglicans) on Wed., 17 April 2013

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In the light of our New Zealand Government’s passage of its Marriage Amendment Bill, which extends to right to marry to Same-Sex Couples in N.Z., and in the expectation of some positive response from our ACANZP Church to the legislation; I find this article – which reveals the reluctance of the Faith & Order Commission of the Church of England to allow for any extension of extant provisions for marriage to include Same-Sex couples – rather discouraging.

The F. & O. Commission’s  negative response to any  suggestion that there should be any changes made to current polity of this issue is detailed, by the Archbishop of York, here:

“The (House of Bishops’ Standing) Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since. The work is now well advanced.

Despite this latter part of the ABY’s comment; there is no evidence here of any further ‘theological work’ having been allowed to influence the F. & O. Commission – despite it being, in the ABY’s own words: “well advanced”. Whatever further work may have been done, it was obviously not made available to those who produced the final Statement made by the Faith and Order Commission that has been widely circulated. 

It used to be thought that what happens in the Church of England ought to be followed closely, as an example to member Churches of the Anglican Communion. However, with the emancipation of Women and the LGBT community being undertaken in former colonial countries, it may well be that once again, as with the ordination of Women; the C. of E. may be left behind – in it’s lack of enthusiasm for justice issues – by its more liberal Communion Partners.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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