QUESTIONS about human sexuality, same-sex marriage, and the
splits in the Anglican Communion made up just under one quarter the
total Questions on Friday evening.
On the singer Sir Elton John, who had recently commented on
"Jesus's view of equal marriage", the Bishop
of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said
that the House of Bishops had no present plans to draw on Sir
Elton's services as theological adviser.
On the facilitated discussions arising out of the Pilling
report, the Bishop of Sheffield,
Dr Steven Croft, said that their purpose was "to reflect, in the
light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural
change that has taken place in relation to sexuality, and to
clarify what it means for the C of E to live with . . . 'good
In reply to another question, he said that the talks would be
guided by "trained facilitators, who will bring the skills
necessary to ensure that the process provides a safe place for all
viewpoints to be expressed".
On reconciliation between the Episcopal Church in the US, the
Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of North America
(ACNA), and the Anglican Communion, the
Archbishop of Canterbury said that his visits to
Primates had demonstrated that "the relationship with the See of
Canterbury is important to all of the provinces, and the visits
have again emphasised the mutuality of relationship among the
Primates." The cost of disagreements had been felt in all
provinces. "Together we must take the steps necessary to bring
about renewed and reconciled relationships." There would be further
reflection after his visits.
Justifying guidance to church schools on tackling homophobic
bullying specifically, the Bishop of Oxford, the
Rt Revd John Pritchard, who chairs the Board of Education, said
that the C of E "is widely, if mistakenly, perceived to be
homophobic. . . That makes homophobic bullying a more difficult
issue for schools to negotiate, and so producing specific guidance
was entirely appropriate."
Robin Hall (Southwark) asked whether the
Bishops had considered "the pastoral needs of those who were to be
forbidden from exercising their civic rights and marrying their
loved ones" when in February it had issued its pastoral statement
on same-sex marriage.
Bishop Broadbent replied that the House had considered the
pastoral implications very carefully, and acknowledged the range of
responses from across the C of E to same-sex marriages. "Individual
bishops would want to talk privately with those clergy for whom the
guidance would be difficult and painful," but "as bishops, we have
a responsibility for upholding the teaching of the Church of
England, and clergy are called to live consistently with that
teaching, even when they disagree with it, and wish to argue for it