So Who Performs Same-Sex Blessings?

Over at Changing Attitude, a recent blog post caught my eye, not for the coherent argument being made that *technically* the Church of England hasn’t formally made up its mind as to whether its churches can or can’t be use to register Civil Partnerships once the law changes this month. No, what was more interesting was what amounted to essentially “outing” some clergy and bishops as to condoning and engaging in same-sex blessings.

CA reminds Mr Fittall and the House of Bishops that blessings of lesbian and gay relationships already take place in Church of England churches. In the diocese of Southwark they happen in many churches including St Luke’s Charlton, with the formal consent of the PCC and the knowledge of the previous two bishops. They happen in many churches in the Diocese of London including St Martin in the Fields which conducts the public blessing of lesbian and gay relationships with the formal consent of the PCC. The Bishop of London has been informed of this practice. Fees are charged, sent to the diocese saying they are for the blessing of a civil partnership, and are banked by the diocese.

So let’s be clear what Colin Coward is asserting.

  1. St Luke’s Charlton performs same-sex blessings with the knowledge of the incumbent, The Revd Erica Wooff, and with the knowledge of the previous Bishops of Southwark. It is unclear whether Christopher Chessun, the current Bishop of Southwark, is aware (though I suspect that will not be an issue very shortly).
  2. St Martin in the Fields, the previous parish to the now Bishop of Salisbury, performs same-sex blessings. Not only would Nick Holtham have known this, but apparently also the Bishop of London knows this.
I’ll leave it to others to decide what to do with that information. What I find most curious though is that Colin Coward asserts that St Martin in the Fields actually sends the “fees” for such blessings off to the Diocese of London! Surely since there are no statutory fees to be paid for such an (illegal) service, this can be nothing more than a blatant political stunt. This was, I remind you all, at the church which was until recently run by the now Bishop of Salisbury.
I have one more question. Are newly appointed bishops obliged to “sign up” to previous statements / pastoral letters of the House of Bishops, say for instance the 2005 pastoral letter on Civil Partnerships? Perhaps that’s one for the Church Times’ Questions and Answers column.
Posted in Church of England, Civil Partnerships, Same-Sex Blessings Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,