A Report from the House of Bishops
This morning, a report from the House of Bishops has been made available ahead of the Church’s General Synod in February. The report and the press statement are attached. The report reflects the place of consensus among the bishops following a period of prayer and conversations and it is acknowledged that it is not a unanimous view.
I am acutely aware that whenever the subject of human sexuality is discussed, it is not something theoretical but is about people and their lives. As you read this report please do so recognising that it is offered in a spirit of humility. The report is presenting a process rather than a final resolution, and it is important that it is read as a whole and that no paragraph is singled out.
The attached press statement highlights that the report “ upholds the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. But it also concludes that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples – which
allows clergy to provide informal prayers for those marrying or forming a civil partnership – is not clear enough and should be revisited. It also calls for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbian and gay people and those attracted to people of the same sex throughout the Church of England.
The paper recommends that bishops prepare a substantial new teaching document on marriage and relationships to replace or expand upon documents drawn up in the 1990s. And it calls for new guidance to be prepared about the kind of questions put to candidates for ordination – irrespective of their sexual orientation – about their lifestyle. It also speaks of the need for the Church to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirm the need to stand against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.”
I fully recognise that this report will provoke a variety of thoughts and feelings. It is important that we go on listening to one another as we seek to discern the right way forward together as members of the Body of Christ. Learning how to better love and listen to one another in our places of profound disagreement is as significant as the content of our discussions.
Members of General Synod will be meeting in small groups before a “Take Note” debate on the afternoon of Wednesday Feb 15th. Please do continue to hold them in your prayers.
At the next meeting of our Diocesan Synod on Feb 4th , ahead of the meeting of general synod, we will be hearing about resources and material produced to enable people across the diocese to engage in shared conversations regarding marriage and same-sex relationships.
Amidst all our conversations we continue to delight that every human is created in the image of God and that our true identity is found in our relationship with Jesus Christ. May we continue to discover and share life in all its fullness as we hold fast to the transforming love and hope of Jesus Christ.
This comes with my good wishes and thanks as we uphold one another in prayer as brothers and sisters in Christ.