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House of Commons question time – marriage equality

House of Commons question time – marriage equality

A hat tip to Thinking Anglicans for this link to questions asked May 5th by MPs:

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)

1. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Church of England on supporting clergy who have entered into same sex marriages or civil partnerships.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I should first declare my personal position, which is that I voted in favour of same sex marriage when the decision was before Parliament, but I do recognise that it is difficult for the Anglican Church. The Anglican Communion extends over many different cultures and many continents, and not all cultures and societies move at the same pace. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the Archbishop of Canterbury managed to get a unanimous agreement among all the bishops of the Anglican Communion, in Canterbury, in January, that there should be a new doctrine condemning homophobic prejudice and violence, and resolving

“to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation.”

Cat Smith: I thank the right hon. Lady for her answer. She will be aware that many people feel called to ministry, including, naturally, many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Although Church of England policies protect heterosexual couples if they are in a marriage by not taking their status into account when it comes to jobs within the Church, the same is not true for those who have entered same sex marriages. Is she aware of cases of written permission from Bishops placed on file, and of refusals to issue licences when new positions are sought, including even secular positions? Will she do her best to ensure that LGBT clergy are not discriminated against here in the Church of England?

Mrs Spelman: As I mentioned, the Anglican Communion is extremely diverse. What we must remember, living here in the liberal west, is that a typical Anglican communicant is in Africa and black, female and under 35; in many African nations there are also very strong views on this subject, and keeping the Communion together is a big challenge. It is open to Church of England clergy to enter into civil partnerships, and many do so. The Church of England in England is moving forward in its understanding with a shared conversation, three parts of which have already occurred. In July this year, the Synod will move forward with the shared conversation about sexuality—the nature of human sexuality. I reiterate the point that the whole Communion agreed unanimously that the Church should never, by its actions, give any impression other than that every human being is the same in God’s sight regardless of sexuality.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): The Dean of Lichfield cathedral, Adrian Dorber, is always telling me how short of money the cathedral is. May I just say that I live for the day when gay clergymen can be openly gay and there will be gay marriages, which will be paid for in Lichfield cathedral and all the other cathedrals in England and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a liberal nation.

Mrs Spelman: I look forward to visiting the Lichfield diocese. Indeed, the Government have been very generous in their funding for repairs to that beautiful cathedral. On the specific subject of human sexuality, I do not think that the Archbishop of Canterbury could have been clearer about his leadership in bringing the whole Anglican Communion together for the first time, united behind the doctrine that we should condemn homophobic prejudice and violence at home and abroad.

Check Thinking Anglican’s post for comments there.


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JC Fisher

“When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

When you speak for the ABC, every question about the CofE looks like the Anglican Communion.

Rev Dr. Ellen M Barrett

Besides the conflation of a Communion national churches with the Church of England and the ABC with the voice of the Communion as a whole, the honourable lady mistakes a smooth tongue for clarity and words for deeds. The Archbishop is a passed master of double-speak and spin, and the result is that while LGBTQ members of the C of E are welcome to warm the pews and contribute their money, they are manifestly not welcome in the licenced ministry, especially if they believe that they and their partners are worth the civil right of marriage (and in America) the blessing of God through the Church. Separate but equal? More like separate and unequal. In choosing to deny the humanity and human rights of their clergy the C of E is making a mockery of the Gospel and rendering itself even more irrelevant to anyone but the most persevering believers who hope somehow that the love of Christ will, in the end, conquer.

Tobias Haller

More conflation of the Church of England and the Primates with “the Anglican Communion” — surely someone needs a lesson in “which of these things is not like the other.” The Primates are most definitely not the “unanimous” voice of the Communion; any more than the Archbishop of Canterbury is the sole voice of the Church of England.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Yes, Tobias. And how hollow is the resolution “condemning homophobic prejudice and violence” when the Church of England is vigorously persecuting their gay clergy and even lay readers.

Of course, it’s so helpful that this was published. It allows us to see better the work of the ABC’s “spin.” Unbelievable. Un-freaking-believeable.

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