Inclusive Church statement on Women Bishops
WATCH (Women and the Church) have very grave concerns about the House of Bishops' amendments to the legislation for women bishops. Inclusive Church shares WATCH's concerns. The area which we find most distressing is that, under the proposed amendment to Para 5(i)(c), the parish can, effectively, decide whether a Bishop proposed to them is acceptable or not. This reintroduces the theology of taint and compromises a female Diocesan Bishop's role. It makes her subordinate to the parish.
Of course we believe that provision should be made for those for whom female bishops are unacceptable; in an inclusive church this must be the case. But it is our view that the legislation and code of practice proposed achieved this, and 42 out of 44 Dioceses agreed. The amendment is likely to have the effect of institutionalising not just one but two grounds for opposition to women's ministry - the conservative evangelical and the catholic.
While we recognise that the intention of the amendment was to give comfort to those opposed, the result has been a clear own goal by the House of Bishops. It may be possible to revise the amendment so that it gives comfort without compromising the position of women bishops, and I hope that Synod will try to make this happen by passing the legislation back to the House of Bishops to reconsider.
Inclusive Church will not be recommending a position to Synod members but as a member myself, I think it's very unlikely indeed that I will be able to support the legislation as it now stands.
Same - Sex marriage
Inclusive Church has made a submission to the Equal Marriage Consultation which supports equal marriage. My personal view on the C of E's statement is this one of deep regret. It appears to have been issued without consultation. I find the emphasis on complementarity and procreation unfortunate and unhelpful; complementarity has been used over the centuries to justify the continuing submission of women, and the emphasis on procreation is disrespectful both to straight couples unable to bear children and lesbian and gay couples bringing up children themselves.
My profoundest objection, though, is that the Church of England has manifestly failed to have a sensible discussion about the inclusion of LGBT people in church and society and so is unable to speak with authority on these questions. Today's statement is another example of the church's ability to shoot itself in the foot. If we as a church are to respond to God's inclusive love for all, then we have to make that love manifest through welcoming gay and lesbian partnerships on equal terms to heterosexual marriage. The Government's consultation is regarding civil marriage ONLY; there is no suggestion of requiring clergy to carry out ceremonies against their will. We already have an example of how individual consciences can be respected in the arrangements over remarriage of divorced people.
By responding in this way the Church of England is appearing more and more sectarian. The statement seems to be prompted by fear - not a helpful starting point. The church is paving the way towards its own disestablishment - it's now at odds both with state and society. Not good.
Giles Goddard (Chair Inclusive Church)
Statement from the LGB&T Anglican Coalition: The Church of England is missing the point
The Coalition has issued this comment on the official Church of England response to the Government consultation on Equal Civil marriage.
The official Church of England response to the Government misses the key point. For many same-sex couples, equal marriage is not about legal rights, but a recognition that marriage offers something more – that marriage embraces something deeply spiritual which strengthens both the couple and society. In failing to recognise this, the Church of England has impoverished its own teaching on marriage.
As the recent letter to The Times by senior Church of England clergy noted, “The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of faithful committed love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his Church…So the fact that there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church.”
The widespread criticism of the statement from within the Church of England that has followed its publication reflects the scandalous lack of consultation in its preparation. There has been no discussion in the General Synod, or in the dioceses, and needless to say LGB&T members of the Church represented by our Coalition partners, were also excluded from those discussions.
(Inclusive Church is a member of the Anglican Coalition brings together all the UK-based groups that work on behalf of the LGB&T members of the Church of England. It exists to provide UK – based Christian LGB&T organisations with opportunities to create resources for the Anglican community and to develop a shared voice for the full acceptance of LGB&T people in the Anglican Communion.)