The Anglican Church of South Africa has released a guide to the proposed pastoral guidelines in response to South Africa’s civil union law.
This note is to assist the Bishops in considering appropriate responses and guidelines for insertion in Section 8 of the Proposed Pastoral Guidelines in relation to situations that might arise within parishes as a consequence of South Africa’s Civil Union legislation.
It is to be read in particular in conjunction with ‘Section 7. Towards Pastoral Guidelines’; and with the recognition that, though the Bishops do not themselves regard this as a church-dividing issue,
there are those within our Province who do see it as such, regarding themselves as out of fellowship with those who support same gender unions and their blessing by the church, believing these to be contrary to the will of God and to the witness and teaching of Scripture.
Given that we share such broad and deep foundations of faith, when, as Bishops in Synod, we consider questions of human sexuality, we feel sharp pains and great distress at our own differences and at the breaches and divisions within the wider Anglican Communion. Yet we strongly affirm that we are united in this: that none of us feels called to turn to another and say ‘I no longer consider you a Christian, a brother in Christ, a member of the body of Christ’. None of us says ‘I am no longer in communion with you.’ We find that our differing views on human sexuality take second place alongside the strength of our overpowering conviction of Christ among us. As long as we, the Bishops of this Province, know unity in Christ in this way, human sexuality is not, and cannot be allowed to be, for us a church dividing issue. This is the basis upon which we go forward together in developing these guidelines. That said, we also recognise that within our Province, and within the wider Anglican Communion, there are those who argue that it should be seen as such, or who regard themselves as out of fellowship with those who support same gender unions and their blessing by the church, believing these to be contrary to the will of God and to the witness and teaching of Scripture.