THE second of two groups to re-examine the Church of England’s stance on sexuality has been announced.
Last month, a three-man group was set up to review the policy statement made by the House of Bishops in 2005, just before the introduction of civil partnerships (News, 2 December). This is chaired by the Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, and includes the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher.
This week, a second group was announced to look more widely at the Church’s approach to sexuality. It will be chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, a retired civil servant. He was Permanent Under Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office (1997-2005), and National Identity Scheme Commissioner until the abandonment of the identity-card scheme. He also chaired a group that produced a report on senior church appointments, Talent and Calling, published in 2007.
He is joined by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham; the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair; the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker; and the Bishop of Warwick, the Rt Revd John Stroyan.
The group has been commissioned to produce a consultation paper for the House of Bishops by 2013. The civil-partnerships group is to report to the House of Bishops this year.
The moves were announced last July, after the House of Bishops was embarrassed by leaked legal advice on how to block those in civil partnerships from becoming bishops without falling foul of the Equality Act.