Ad Clerum from Bishop Martin Warner.

Bishop Martin WarnerDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Attached to this note is the text of the Letter and Statement from the House of Bishops on the introduction of same sex marriage that will happen at the end of March.

My prayer is that we shall all be able to receive these documents in the spirit of forbearance and charity that must be the marks of our calling as ordained ministers who are charged with the stewardship and good ordering of the household of faith.  None of these documents is sent in confidence and you should feel free to use and share them in any way that is pastorally helpful and constructive.

The House of Bishops re-affirms its view that “the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman”.  We are also committed to ensuring that our affirmation of this view does not by any means convey the implication of homophobia, or condone it.  We shall also, all of us, minister to people who choose to make use of same sex marriage when it becomes a reality in our society.  Some of you have already had to answer questions about this, and have done so with exemplary care.

The House of Bishops’ Statement gives details of the disciplinary arrangements that will be followed, particularly in the case of ordination.  The range of disciplinary action is evidence of the seriousness of this matter for us all, but also of its very personal and sensitive territory.

In conclusion, I would like to revisit with you the words of the Ordinal for the Ordination and Consecration of a Bishop:  “With the Shepherd’s love, [bishops] are to be merciful, but with firmness; to minister discipline, but with compassion”.  This injunction will, I hope, be especially evident in the handling of this demanding and yet tender area of discipline here in Chichester. It is exercised in the context of an order of discipleship that declares we will “fashion our own life and that of our household according to the way of Christ”.  That is a calling to which we have responded and must find joy even in its most demanding requirements.  In respecting the conscience of each brother or sister as it is known and will be judged by God, let us encourage and support one another.

With thanks for our partnership in the gospel,


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