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Selby breaks bishops' ranks

02 November 2006

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 relationships."

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 say nothing".


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