Our last Lead headline was pretty clear: “Church of England rejects blessings for same sex couples”. This was based on The Guardian’s story.
However, there is also this headline from The Telegraph:
Church of England gives blessing to recognising civil partnerships
Umm…call us confused.
The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser is quoted in this article, explaining is that this is normal church behavior:
“What this is saying is that you can bless civil partnerships as long as you don’t say that is what you are doing,” he said.
“They are winking at people like me saying ‘be creative’ – it is a classic Anglican fudge.
“In effect what it is saying is you can do it as long as you don’t say that is what you are doing – call it something different, be as imaginative as you can.
Thinking Anglicans provides an extensive list of the newspaper headlines this morning, suggesting that the press is unclear as to what the church is doing.
Bishop Alan Wilson analyses it extensively in his morning blog post “Gay Marriage: Must Try Harder”. He also says that the “pastoral care” provided by the press release makes him “quake in his boots”:
(quoting from the press release) “…this report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer, and compassion for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold.”
Many of my gay friends will find this tendentious statement wildly patronising and offensive. Offers of comfort from the very people whose homophobia caused the pain in the first place will not be received easily. If the Church wants to provide compassion, it can stop talking about gay people and start talking with them. It can demonstrate the genuinness of its care by ceasing to belittle and patronise them and start taking them seriously. If it wants to pray with them, this institution which cheerfully blesses nuclear submarines, hamsters and buckets of cement can start blessing their often stunning relationships.