Launch of ‘Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’
The Church of Ireland Select Committee on Human Sexuality has published the result of its three year ‘listening process’. Entitled the “Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the context of Christian Belief” it details the long and often fraught journey that this issue has taken from the House of Bishops’ first pastoral letter on the issue of Human Sexuality, in September 2003, to the commencement of the ‘listening process’ and the Select Committee’s engagement with representatives of the two contrasting sides in this argument, including individual members of the LGBT community who made contributions in their own right to the Committee, right up to the present day and the publication of this guide.
Changing Attitude Ireland were represented at the launch of this publication, in Church House in Dublin on January 18 by the Chairman, Scott Golden accompanied by Canon Ginnie Kennerley, David McConnell and Leo Kilroy who is also a member of the Advisory Panel to the Select Committee .
CAI commended the Select Committee for the work and effort that went into producing such a balanced publication and acknowledged the Select Committee’s reasons for not attempting to come to any conclusion other than that “the conversation should continue”. It is essential, if this Guide is to be effective, that the Church facilitate further small group conversation on these issues throughout the Church, at parish level then diocesan level and finally at General Synod. These sessions should use experienced facilitators as suggested by Bishop Trevor Williams in his submission “Understanding the Other”.
As to any regrets, we would have wished that the personal testimonies shared with committee members by LGBT individuals and those close to them at considerable emotional cost could have been quoted more fully. We also question the necessity of hypothesizing about what those who did not testify might have said if they had felt comfortable enough to come forward.
On the wider scene, we are encouraged by the Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke, saying yesterday (Sunday 17 January 2016) that he believed in equality absolutely and completely, that he was open to changing his mind on the issue of same-sex marriage and hoped we might find some form of pastoral accommodation that would be true to the Scriptures and to our understanding that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and is equally loved by God and must be equally loved by us.
Download the accompanying Executive Summary
Scott Golden, Chairman.
“Changing Attitude Ireland” here releases its statement on the recent launch of the Church of Ireland’s ‘Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’.
CAI’s appreciation of the Church of Ireland’s initiative is only tempered by the fact that input from the LGBTI people who were willing to testify before the Commission set up for this purpose seems to have been less than fully mentioned in the subsequent Report of the Commission.
However, despite this obviously minor shortcoming – from the point of view of those brave enough to testify before the Commission – there seems to be a general consensus from the LGBTI community in Ireland; that the Church of Ireland’s proactive intention to launch conversations on this important matter of human sexuality within the context of the wide diversity in opinions encountered within the Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion, has been an important step forward towards settlement of what has been perceived to be a culture of injustice towards a specific minority in the Church.
This step taken by the Church of Ireland might encourage other Provinces of the Anglican Communion to set up similar processes towards the understanding of human sexuality and its impact upon the tradition and mission of the Church in the modern era.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand