THE Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, has broken ranks with the House of
Bishops over its statement on the Civil Partnerships Act (
News, 29 July). Writing in the Church Times, Dr Selby dissociates
himself from the bishops' views.
He says that their message "was bound to be heard negatively", whereas his
attitude is more positive. The willingness of people to enter civil
partnerships "should be a source not of fear, but of delight".
He realised that the bishops' statement "was unlikely to turn out in a form
with which I could associate myself". He writes that he had suggested that
those considering entering a civil partnership should be consulted about the
statement, but this idea was rejected.
He goes on to describe his fellow bishops' fear that marriages "are somehow
threatened" by the development of civil partnership, but says: "I find this
fear difficult to understand, since nobody has ever been prepared to tell me
that their own marriage was threatened by the public recognition of gay
Dr Selby refers to civil partnerships as representing "something more
hopeful than this document [the bishops' statement] makes it appear". He writes
of the "enriching inspiration" of a same-sex couple, both priests, whom he
met. His lesbian and gay friends have given him "support and insight" in his
own marriage. He also praises "the kind of faithfulness and responsibility
that civil partnerships involve".
In contrast, he finds the bishops have made "a grudging and fearful response"
that "will not help either bishops or those to whom they minister". He
concludes by saying that if "we cannot speak hopefully about what are clearly
signs of commitment and responsibility, perhaps it would have been better to