Changing Attitude get it spot on

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Colin Coward, but his blog piece this morning is right on the nail.

The Church of England is fact divided on sexuality. The House of Bishops is divided – they are not of one mind about homosexuality. The House of Bishops does not speak with honesty and the members of the House are not honest amongst themselves. The bishops are not in agreement about the policy which they claim is the mind of the church. Many bishops ignore the notional teaching of the church in ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ (which was written as a discussion document) and ignore their own rules set out in the House of Bishops statement on Civil Partnerships.

Many bishops positively encourage their clergy to register as civil partners and to follow this by seeking the blessing of God on their partnership in a service held in their parish church. Bishops have attended both civil partnership registrations and the service which follows.

Of course Coward’s response is to be more public about the breaking of policy.

Conversations with members of the House of Bishops confirm the truth of Peter Selby’s comments. There is deep frustration amongst the trustees and supporters of Changing Attitude. We know many bishops actively dissent from the policy but will not publicly say so or make public their active dissent. We collude with them in maintaining a silence about it.

If we continue to be silent, we betray those we are here to advocate for and we help maintain “the pretence of unity” which has about it “a ring of falsity” that, says Peter Selby, “needs to be confronted for the sake of the integrity of our ecclesial life.” It allows the false notion to continue that “the sexuality issue is decided in the CofE – in fact everywhere except among a few dissidents in TEC and Western Canada” and that “betrays us all.”

What’s the solution though? At present the stated policy of the Church of England is that clergy are not permitted to have sexual relationships outside of marriage. If some Bishops are pretending that these aren’t happening (i.e. when they know about them they don’t take the necessary action) then perhaps we should play the same game? Short of those clergy who are breaking the rules standing up publicly and saying so, we should ignore and dismiss any attempt to suggest that the rules need to be changed, on the basis that no-one is reporting that there are rule-breakers in the first place, so obviously things are fine.


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