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Civil partnerships and the Anglican debate

02 November 2006


From Mr Darren Moore
Sir, - Your clear report updating us on some of the clergy's attitude to partaking in civil partnerships ( News, 9 December) left me with many questions.

With regard to the current situation in Southwark, the Revd David Page and others are assuming that the Bishop will not ask them any awkward questions. But, if he does not, will this not vindicate the Revd Richard Coekin's decision to bus in a bishop for ordinations?

If the Bishop of Southwark does not ask tough questions and act accordingly, this would send a clear message that one can run against the Archbishop of Canterbury, the House of Bishops, the Lambeth statement, the overwhelming opinion of the Anglican Communion and worldwide Church (now and through the ages), and even the word of God - and yet not cross him. This would be a worrying development, whatever one's churchmanship.

Another question was regarding the Revd Stephen Coles's comment that the Church viewed loving gay relationships as more sinful that abstinence with occasional lapses. Who actually has this view? Or is this an imagined view?

I think the underlying issue was expressed by Mr Coles, who said that if he was asked by his Bishop about sexual behaviour he would go straight to the Court of Human Rights. Doesn't Jesus teach that following him is to abandon our rights? Doesn't he say: "Take up your cross and follow me" rather than: "Take up your duvet . . ."?

The final twist was the comment from Inclusive Church that it was about time the Church stopped obsessing about sex. This prompted me to look at the organisation's website. I couldn't find anything there that wasn't about sex.
39 Westbank Road
Birkenhead CH42 7JP

From Mr Steve Vince
Sir, - The Bishop of Durham's admirable summary ( 2 December) of the current situation of the American and Canadian Churches in relation to the rest of the Anglican Communion did not deserve the opprobrium your correspondents heaped upon it ( Letters, 9 December).

The American Church's decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as a bishop, and the Canadian Church's decision to bless same-sex unions, were both clear breaches of fellowship with the rest of the Communion. If these acts were not essentially subversive, but as "open, transparent and prayerful" as Mr Statham would have us believe, the two Churches should have had the courage of their convictions and announced that they were boycotting Lambeth until the Communion had repented of Resolution 1.10. Why don't they do this?

Mr Statham's accusation of dishonesty among the English bishops is, I fear, partly true: but the only honest and open repentance would involve upholding the present canon law on the matter unless and until it is changed. Those in favour of changing the canon law could bring a resolution to General Synod straightaway. Why don't they do this?

On the subject of unity, Dr Carey strongly believed that a so-called "unity" based on standing against the witness of scripture would be worthless, and that a Church that had this would no longer be part of the "one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church" of Jesus Christ. The massive majority in favour of Resolution 1.10 gave clear witness that the Anglican Communion, to a huge extent, agreed with him.

To describe Dr Carey's actions in this matter as "episcopal posturing", as Mr Taylor does, is unfair.

While I basically agree with Dr Wright's comments about the Primate of Nigeria's letter, I do have a modicum of sympathy with the signatories' position. It is easy to see how they might think that Dr Williams was actually on the side of the American and Canadian Churches, and that this was what was setting his agenda. I would love to see this view proved wrong.

Meanwhile, a priest regards the European Court of Human Rights as a competent authority to rule on what lifestyles are, or are not, consistent with being a minister of Christ? Words fail me.
13 Selwyn Close

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