REACTIONS to the lifting of the moratorium of the appointment of
priests in civil partnerships to the episcopate - provided they are
celibate - have been sharply divided.
The director of Changing Attitude, the Revd Colin Coward, told
BBC Radio 4's PM programme, on Friday: "In theory, I
welcome the announcement. . . I'm not sure that I trust it. . . I
think the Church has issued a statement which will be laughed at by
the majority in this country. I think it's unenforceable, and I
think it's totally inappropriate."
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition said that the lifting of the
moratorium was "only a small step", but one that "removes a glaring
injustice". It urged the Bishops to publish the report by the
review group, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd
James Paterson, "as soon as is practically possible".
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said that the statement
was a "welcome first step . . . towards full inclusion of lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and trans people in the life of the Church".
The Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, who is in
a celibate civil partnership, was quoted in The Guardian
as saying: "If it is genuinely true that all levels of ordained
ministry are now more open to gay people than they were before,
then this is a very good thing."
Conservative groups were quick to criticise the Bishops'
statement. The chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, told the
BBC on Friday evening: "This is a very serious step indeed, because
the Church has never agreed that people in civil partnerships
should ever become bishops in the Church of England. . .
"It would be much more divisive than what we have seen over
women bishops. If you thought that was a furore, wait to see what
will happen the first time a bishop in a civil partnership is
A statement from Anglican Mainstream, signed by its convener, Dr
Philip Giddings, who chairs the House of Laity, and its secretary,
Canon Chris Sugden, said: "Most people assume that civil
partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim
that they are not. . .
"Since a decision to move from the current position would be a
grave departure from the Church's doctrine and discipline, it
should be made by Bishops in Synod, not by Bishops alone.
Otherwise, it looks too much like salami-slicing away at the
The Church of England Evangelical Council said that the
appointment of priests in civil partnerships as bishops was "not a
justice issue", but "an issue of example setting to the nation. . .
The watching world may well conclude that same-sex relationships
are simply OK for followers of Jesus Christ."
The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who is the chairman
of the GAFCON Primates Council, said on Monday that the Bishops'
announcement would "create further confusion about Anglican moral
teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater
And the Archbishop of Uganda, the Rt Revd Stanley Ntagali,
described the news as "very discouraging". It was "really no
different from allowing gay bishops", he said. "This decision
violates our biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican
Communion. . . [It] only makes the brokenness of the Communion
worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother
Church. . . Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words."