The House of Bishops of the Church of England has effectively lifted the 2005 ban that prevented gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. A Church Times reports the action took place during the December meeting of the Bishops but the move was done so quietly that many commentators and bloggers either missed it or misunderstood it.
Ed Thornton reports in The Church Times:
Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).
The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson’s group.
The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.
This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops. The 2005 statement on civil partnerships states: “The House of Bishops does not regard entering into civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.”