Archbishops criticised for inviting proposer of Scottish gay-marriage motion to York

05 July 2017

Sam Atkins

“Invidious position”: Susie Leafe at the General Synod, in 2014

“Invidious position”: Susie Leafe at the General Synod, in 2014

A GROUP of the General Synod’s laity and clergy have been placed in an “invidious” position, they say, by the “entirely wrong” invitation to the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Revd John Armes, to the Synod’s York meeting this weekend. They argue that it looks like an endorsement of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s change to its canons to allow same-sex marriage in church.

Bishop Armes, who was invited by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, was the proposer of the motion to amend the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Canon 31, on the solemnisation of holy matrimony, which was carried by the Scottish Synod last month (News, 8 June).

In a letter in this Friday’s Church Times, Susie Leafe (Truro) and 14 other members of the Houses of Laity and Clergy write that they are having to consider whether to “follow our consciences and withdraw”.

Quoting the communiqué issued after the Primates’ Meeting in January last year, the Synod members write: “In 2016, the Primates of the Anglican Communion made it clear that, though they desired to walk together, the decision to permit same-sex marriages represented ‘a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces’ and ‘further impair(s) our communion and create(s) a deeper mistrust between us.

“‘This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.’

“It is, therefore, entirely wrong that the Archbishops have chosen to invite the Bishop of Edinburgh as an honoured guest to our General Synod this week. It has put those who stand with the vast majority of the Anglican Communion in an invidious position on whether they participate fully in the Synod and are thereby seen to endorse the Scottish Episcopal Church’s decision, or whether to follow our consciences and withdraw and in so doing be prevented from fulfilling the roles for which we have been elected.”

Only one of the six Scottish bishops voted against the motion on Canon 31. The only diocesan synod to vote against the proposal had been Aberdeen & Orkney.

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s newly elected Primus, the Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, the Most Revd Mark Strange, said last week that, while he appreciated that some people were unhappy with the decision, the Church “now needs to focus on its mission” (News, 30 June)

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