New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
UK >

Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’

Ed Thornton

by Ed Thornton

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 @ 12:20

THE Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, expressed his disappointment this week with the way in which the news emerged of the opening of the episcopate to priests in civil partnerships ( News, 4 January).

Bishop Paterson was appointed to chair a group looking into whether clergy in civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate ( News, 2 December 2011). The House of Bishops had recommended a moratorium on such appointments until the group reported ( News, 8 July 2011).

Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group - whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher - had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.

The group's report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?

Bishop Paterson said that although the group "did make a proposal", he could not say what it was. In addition, it had assumed that it would be asked to produce a final report. In May, however, the House of Bishops standing committee took over responsibility for the review.

The standing committee produced a shorter document, which was discussed by the Bishops when they met in December at Lambeth Palace. The Bishops issued a paragraph, included in a summary of decisions, on 20 December, which "confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate".

Bishop Paterson said: "It is fair to say that what came out at the end did not represent the fairly considerable amount of work by our group and the standing committee. But something had to be said by the end of the year, because it had been promised."

The House of Bishops had been preoccupied with making amendments to the draft women-bishops Measure, meaning that "civil partnerships inevitably took a back seat", he said.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, issued a statement last Friday clarifying the Bishops' decision to allow clergy in civil partnerships, who live "in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality", to be eligible for episcopal appointment.

Bishop Paterson said: "The problem with the document that we are left with now is that it doesn't show the workings. What the House thought would be an eirenic statement has angered liberals and conservatives alike."

The Bishops have said that a pastoral statement on civil partnerships will not be issued until a wider report by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church's approach to sexuality is published later this year.

Bishop Paterson said that his group's papers had been passed to the Pilling group. He hoped that it would "produce such a good result" that it would compensate for the "obvious inadequacies" of the Bishops' statements thus far.

Gay-marriage polls. The Coalition for Marriage published results of two polls, on Tuesday, which suggested that a majority of parliamentarians oppose the use of the Parliament Act to steer through same-sex marriage legislation. The Parliament Act, which is used rarely, allows Bills that do not pass in the House of Lords to become law.

A poll of 151 MPs, carried out by ComRes, suggested that 65 per cent opposed the use of the Parliament Act. A separate poll of 106 peers, also carried out by ComRes, suggested that 74 per cent opposed the Act's use.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it had "no plans" to use the Act of Parliament.

Job of the week

Professor of Divinity

London and Home Counties

Gresham CollegeFounded 1597 Gresham Professor of Divinity Gresham College has provided free public lectures for over 400 years in the City of London and now operates worldwide via the internet. Fo...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Finding life over death

Finding life over death

Denise Inge, who died on Easter Day this year, discovered that her home was built over a charnel house. This prompted her to write a book exploring the challenge of living well in the face of mortality  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Are foodbanks an effective way of dealing with poverty?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Fighting inequality and corruption in the world

Efforts are being made to combat corruption and sharp practice in global finance. Peter Selby has seen this at first hand  Subscribe to read more

Fri 21 Nov 14 @ 18:23
This week's @churchtimes caption competition (£) http://t.co/7MLykjnfbO http://t.co/e2W7Dcex09

Fri 21 Nov 14 @ 18:11
Church leaders condemn murder of American hostage http://t.co/qvOo6JbXHX