THE College of Bishops has accepted the recommendations of the
Pilling report, but has warned that the Church of England may never
agree on the issue of sexuality.
In a statement released on Monday after a day of discussing the
report, the College of Bishops said that a series of "facilitated
conversations" on homosexuality needed to take place within the
"This should continue to involve profound reflection on the
interpretation and application of Scripture. These conversations
should set the discussion of sexuality within the wider context of
human flourishing," it said.
The Bishops will now ask the Archbishops to set up a group that
would design the procedure for these conversations and also produce
materials to enable discussion. They hope to have this completed
and approved by the House of Bishops in May.
The statement warns, however, that the most that might result
from these conversations within the Church would be "good
"We acknowledge that one of the challenges we face is to create
safe space for all those involved to be honest about their own
views and feelings," they said.
"We recognise that we will not all agree and that this process
is in part committed to seeking good disagreement that testifies to
our love for one another across the Church in obedience to
In a sermon preached to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in
Sandringham on Sunday, the Archbishop of Canterbury repeated the
suggestion that the Church must learn "good disagreement".
"Christians will never all agree on everything: they never
have," he said. "That is true for the Church of England, let alone
the Anglican Communion in 145 countries. Christ does not command
unanimity, but love and unity in diversity. So we must be
reconciled to each other in love."
The College statement emphasised that the Bishops were united in
affirming the presence and ministry in the Church of gay and
lesbian people - both clergy and laity. The statement also said:
"We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and the
tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving,
compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within
Church and society."
Released in November, the Pilling report, by the House of
Bishops' working group on human sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph
Pilling, also recommended that clergy be allowed to hold public
services to "mark" same-sex relationships, (News, 29
Nevertheless, the College of Bishops insisted that the report
did not create any new "pastoral and liturgical practice", and that
the Church's teaching on marriage had not changed.
Writing in response to the bishops, the Archbishop of Kenya, the
Most Revd Eliud Wabukala, strongly criticised the decision to go
ahead with facilitated conversations.
Archbishop Wabukala, who also chairs the GAFCON Primates'
Council, said in a statement: "We cannot allow our time and energy
to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly
revealed in the Scriptures.
"While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not
adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin,
it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is
"The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness
to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God."
He also said he rejected the idea these conversations should
happens across the Anglican Communion, arguing they were a
particular problem for the Church of England only.