Tag Archives: House of Bishops

Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

imageChurches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

In a historic shift in thinking a panel of bishops recommend the Church of England allow special services which will amount to gay marriages in all but name

In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
11:15AM GMT 28 Nov 2013

The Church of England is poised to offer public blessing services for same-sex couples in a historic shift in teaching.
A long-awaited review of church teaching by a panel of bishops recommends lifting the ban on special services which will amount to weddings in all but name.
Although the Church will continue to opt out of carrying out gay marriages, when they become legal next year, the landmark report recommends allowing priests to conduct public services “to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships”.
The report repeatedly speaks of the need for the Church to “repent” for the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past.
In what will be seen as a radical departure, it also suggests that the Bible is inconclusive on the subject of homosexuality.

The report does not recommend drawing up special liturgies for the blessing service, although it suggests new “guidelines” are drawn up.
Unlike weddings, priests will not have a legal obligation to offer such services and the decision will be left to individual parishes.
The report insists that the Church continues to “abide by its traditional teaching”, but the recommendation undoubtedly represents a fundamental shift in practice.
Opponents have been warning that any attempt to change the church’s position in sexuality would lead to a split which would make the disagreements over women bishops pale into insignificance.
It would also trigger a major rift within the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.
The review, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, a former civil service mandarin, and including four bishops, was ordered last year in an attempt to resolve years of tension over the Church’s approach to gay worshippers and clergy.
But it was granted a wide remit to explore all aspects of its teaching on human sexuality – an issue which has dogged it for decade on sex.
Although the report itself will not change Church teaching or liturgy – something only the House of Bishops and General Synod can do – its publication marks a landmark moment for Anglicanism.
The debate over gay marriage earlier this year was just the latest in a series of issues exposing growing divisions as liberals and conservatives battle for the soul of the Established Church.
Questions over remarrying divorcees, its approach to cohabitation have plagued the Church for decades.
In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin.
Any official endorsement of lifestyles outside those limits draws anger from traditionalists who argue that the Church is turning its back on 2,000 years of teaching.
But opponents argue that an apparent obsession with people’s private lives is a distraction from the Church’s core mission to spread the Christian gospel.
In practice its position has shifted dramatically in recent decades and even leading evangelicals have acknowledged a need to accept massive social change.
Last year a new official handbook for vicars on conducting weddings made clear that they should expect most couples wanting to marry to be already living together and probably have children.
The House of Bishops agreed last Christmas that openly gay clerics who are in civil partnerships are now officially allowed to become bishops – as long as they claim to be celibate.
The approach taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, typifies that of the Church in recent years.
An evangelical who once opposed gay couples adopting children, the Archbishop strongly objected to the Government’s introduction of same-sex marriage when it was debated in the Lords.
But only weeks later, he used his first presidential address to the Church’s General Synod, to warn Anglicans of a need to face up to a “revolution” in attitudes to sexuality.
He later said that most young people – including young Christians – think its teaching on gay relationships is “wicked” and has angered traditionalists by inviting the gay rights group Stonewall into church schools to combat homophobic bullying.
The Archbishop of York, who led the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, has himself signalled support for some form of blessing for same-sex relationships.
Speaking in Lords in July, he pointed out that it already offers special prayers and services to bless sheep and even trees but not committed same-sex couples – something he said would have to be addressed.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Doctrine of the Feline Sedentation

How would the Church of England deal with “the cat sat    on the mat” if it appeared in the Bible?

The liberal theologians would point out that such a passage    did not of course mean that the cat literally sat on the mat. Also, cat and mat had    different meanings in those days from today, and anyway, the text should be interpreted    according to the customs and practices of the period.

This would lead to an immediate backlash from the    Evangelicals. They would make it an essential condition of faith that a real physical,    living cat, being a domestic pet of the Felix Domesticus species, and having a whiskered    head and furry body, four legs and a tail, did physically place its whole body on a floor    covering, designed for that purpose, which is on the floor but not of the floor. The    expression “on the floor but not of the floor” would be explained in a leaflet.

Meanwhile, the Catholics would have developed the Festival    of the Sedentation of the Blessed Cat. This would teach that the cat was white and    majestically reclined on a mat of gold thread before its assumption to the Great Cat    Basket of Heaven. This would be commemorated by the singing of the Magnificat, lighting    three candles, and ringing a bell five times. This would cause a schism withthe Orthodox    Church which would believe that tradition would require Holy Cats Day [as it would be    colloquially known] to be marked by lighting six candles and ringing the bell four times.    This would be partly resolved by the Cuckoo Land Declaration recognising the traditional    validity of each.

Eventually, the House of Bishops would issue a statement on    the Doctrine of the Feline Sedentation. It would explain that traditionally the text    describes a domestic feline quadruped superjacent to an unattached covering on a    fundamental surface. For determining its salvific and eschatological significations, it    would follow the heuristic analytical principles adopted in dealing with the Canine    Fenestration Question [How much is that doggie in the window?] and the Affirmative    Musaceous Paradox [Yes, we have no bananas]. And so on, for another 210 pages.

The General Synod would then commend this report as helpful    resource material for clergy to explain to the man in the pew the difficult doctrine of    the cat sat on the mat.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic