THE Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, has said that he wept when the synod of the Province of Southern Africa rejected a proposal for the Church to offer blessings for same-sex couples.
Dr Makgoba said after the vote: “I was deeply pained by the outcome of the debate. I was glad I wear glasses, or the synod would have seen the tears. I wanted to be anywhere but in the synod hall. . .
“If one of you, my church members, is in pain, then I am in pain, too. The pain on both sides of the debate in synod was palpable, and no one celebrated or applauded the outcome. There are no winners or losers in the Kingdom of God, and we recognised that, whichever way the vote went, there was going to be pain.”
The proposal to introduce blessing services for same-sex couples was rejected by substantial majorities in all three houses of the synod: bishops, clergy, and laity. To be carried it required two-thirds majorities.
The province of Southern Africa covers Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and the island of St Helena. Only South Africa currently allows same-sex couples to marry under civil law.
Besides same-sex blessings, the original motion would have allowed bishops to license LGBT clergy in civil partnerships themselves to minister in parishes, but this was withdrawn before the debate. The Archbishop said, however, that the debate was “not over”.
He continued: “Without trying to predict its ultimate outcome, or to suggest what that should be, it was notable that a number of opponents of the motion did not reject it out of hand, but suggested instead that opinion in our Church was not yet ready for such a move.
“As it was, the degree of support for the motion was quite substantial, if you compare us to other African provinces of the Anglican Church, most of which are vigorously opposed to same-sex unions in any form.
“Our Church, like South Africa as a nation, has previously provided an example to the world over how we can overcome differences over issues that people feel strongly about, such as sanctions against apartheid, and the ordination of women as priests. It remains my hope that those on both sides of this debate can overcome their differences in a way that will be an example to the rest of the Anglican Communion, which is as divided over the issue as we are.”
Addressing the LGBT community directly, he said: “You are loved by God, and all baptised, believing, and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the body of Christ. . . We urge you to stick with us to play your full part in the deliberations to come.”