Bishops and Clergy

More responses to the House of Bishops’ Statement.

First, the Bishop of Oxford.

John Pritchard, Bishop of OxfordThere’s a link here to the House of Bishops Pastoral Letter in response to the forthcoming change in legislation to permit same sex marriage. As the letter makes clear we aren’t changing the long-established understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, and we expect our clergy to live in a way that is consistent with the Church’s teaching.

The letter recognises that there is a range of views across the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and these views are reflected in the House of Bishops.

It’s important to recognise that this letter will be difficult for some people, and that, as I said last December, we are committed to the ongoing conversation recommended in the Pilling Report. I hope that those conversations (of which more will emerge in the summer) will demonstrate respect for different perspectives and show kindness and humility as we wrestle with these questions and continue the journey towards understanding. Love and prayer are the most important gifts we can bring to the task.

Next the Bishop of Lincoln.

Christopher Lowson, Bishop of LincolnThe House of Bishops met last week to discuss the implications for the Church of the forthcoming change of legislation which will next month allow same-sex marriage. After its discussions, the House issued a statement which outlined the position of the Church in respect to same-sex marriage. The statement comes as an appendix to a pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York addressed to the clergy and people of the Church of England. The text of the letter and the statement are reproduced below.

As Bishop of Lincoln, I must draw your attention to the statement, and particularly the parts which affect current or potential congregation members, clergy and ordinands.

The House of Bishops recognises the strongly held and divergent views on this issue, both within the Church of England and across the Anglican Communion. These differences are also reflected within the House of Bishops. We are committed to the recommendation of the Pilling Report that the subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level and that this should continue to involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. The Report recommends that these conversations should set the discussion of sexuality within the wider context of human flourishing.

I would be very pleased to receive your comments and opinions on the statement, and on the issue generally. For some, the statement might be considered too weak; for others, too strong. As I lead the Diocese with a vision of growing in faith, confidence and joy, it is important to know how individuals and communities see the issue of same-sex marriage, as well as the many other issues which impact on our ministry and mission as the Church seeks to be an effective, relevant and respected force for good, both now and well into the future.

And finally, here’s someone who appears not to have read the Bishops’ Statement.

I suspect a conversation with the Bishop of London may occur shortly….

One more thought. The arrival today of my annual Church of England pension statement (feeble as it is) reminded me that the Church of England allows spousal pension arrangements for civil partners. How will it approach same-sex marriages? Will the same-sex spouse (marriage) of a priest be entitled to a spousal pension in the event of the death of the priest? Think about it…