Skip to comments.House of Bishops’ Statement on Civil Partnerships
Posted on 10/20/2005 3:24:07 PM PDT by sionnsar
Thank you for your letters of 16 September and 3 October.
First, I can assure you that the Houses Statement of 25 July was issued after very careful consideration. The House was clear throughout that it was not intending to add to or subtract from its 1991 Statement Issues in Human Sexuality whether in relation to clergy or the laity. The task was to determine how to apply that teaching to the new set of circumstances created by the Civil Partnership Act.
This legislation is, as you say, ambiguous. That is precisely why paragraph 22 of the statement says: Because of the ambiguities surrounding the character and public nature of civil partnerships, the House of Bishops would advise clergy to weigh carefully the perceptions and assumptions which would inevitably accompany a decision to register such a partnership. That is also why the House concluded (paragraph 20) that it would be a matter of social injustice to exclude from ministry those who are faithful to the teaching of the Church [in relation to sexual conduct], and who decide to register a civil partnership.
Joshua Rozenburg, the Daily Telegraphs legal editor, recently commented on the discrepancies between some of what has been asserted in relation to the new legislation and what it actually says in an article on 6 October. He wrote: there is nothing in the 2004 act to say it is for lesbian and gay couples at all sexual infidelity does not provide a basis for dissolving a civil partnership .. Similarly, although a marriage is voidable on the ground that either party is incapable of consummating it, there is nothing comparable in the Civil Partnership Act.
In relation to the churchs room for manoeuvre in relation to the law there were two separate issues. The first is whether it would have been legally possible for the Church to have made registering a civil partnership incompatible with being in Holy Orders. The second concerns the changes to various references to spouse in church legislation (for example on pensions).
On the first, the answer is that there will no doubt be denominations or faith groups who will regard being in a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with membership of their ordained ministries. That is the position of the Roman Catholic Church. The law does not preclude that approach where the prohibition is based on doctrine or religious conviction. For the reasons set out above, however, civil partnerships do not necessarily involve activity contrary to the teaching of the Church of England (as contained, for example, in the 1987 Synod motion). The bishops did not, therefore think it warranted to seek to impose a prohibition.
On the second issue, the situation is different. The Church of England would, from December, have been vulnerable to legal challenge had the statutory references not been changed. Although up to now it has been possible to have pension and other entitlements linked to marital status, it will from December be against the law on discrimination to treat marriage and civil partnerships differently in these respects. The only issue therefore was how best to have the necessary legal changes made.
It would have been impossible in practice to take a Measure through Synod and Parliament in the time available. As a result, the Archbishops Council and House of Bishops, after discussion, agreed that the changes could be made in Parliamentary orders making other consequential changes. An enabling power to this effect had already been included in the legislation itself with the agreement of the House of Bishops and the Archbishops Council.
While the House has no intention of revising its Statement of 25 July, it will of course continue to keep the pastoral situation under review in the light of experience.
(Copied to members of the House of Bishops)
okay, either the bible says its a sin for two fags to be shtupping each other or it isn't. you strain at a gnat, and yet you swallow the camel.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.