Wednesday 15th February 2017
Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby following the General Synod’s vote “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships.
“No person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people.
How we deal with the real and profound disagreement – put so passionately and so clearly by many at the Church of England’s General Synod debate on marriage and same-sex relationships today – is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.
To deal with that disagreement, to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.
We need to work together – not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone – to move forward with confidence.
The vote today is not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said this afternoon.
The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”
Posted by Peter Owen (‘Thinking Anglicans’) on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 10:17pm GMT
This statement made by the Archbishop of Canterbury (for whom we pray, here, at every Mass) gives some indication of the concern being felt by the Head of the Church of England at the rejection of the ‘Bishops Report to General Synod’ by the Clergy in Synod.
These are people for whom ‘the rubber hits the road’ in their day to day ministry of the Church. They are more aware than most laity or bishops of people in their congregations who are still suffering from the Church’s traditional culture of homophobia. These are the priests who have to deal with the anguish of young people whose very lives are compromised by their innate sexuality coming into conflict with official Church teaching about something they know instinctively as being part and parcel of their created personae. The clergy are aware of the adult gay and transsexual people in their own congregations whose personal relationships have to be kept secretive, because of their capacity for scandal – when the world accepts them for who they naturally are; children of God and loved by God.
It should not be too surprising that it is the clergy vote that rejected the bishops report. The Bishops, after all, are least motivated to oil the machinery of change in the Church’s traditional way of doing things – certainly its doctrinal stance on marriage, where momentous change has already been accepted on matters of contraception and divorce.
The dear faithful laity – most of them landing on General Synod because of their stolid traditional stance on most matters and because of their age or status that allows them the time to attend the many meetings involved in church governance – could be expected to follow the bishops’ advice on anything concerning faith and ethics. It could have been expected that most of them would have voted with the Bishops Report.
However, praise God, the voices of those supporting the change in doctrine that would have allowed Same-Sex monogamous relationships to be recognized and blessed by the Church were obviously convincing enough to cause the clergy (if they had not already made this decision for themselves) to withhold their approval of the Bishops Report.
My hope is that the Bishops in our own ACANZP Province of the Anglican Communion will take note of the situation at the Church of England General Synod, determining to make a better job of their own recommendations to our G.S. Meeting in 2017.
Here is a link to the Statement by the Sec. general of the Anglican Communion:
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand