William Nye letter on same-sex marriage criticised as ‘perplexing’

04 May 2018

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OPPOSITION continues to mount to the response sent by the Archbishops’ Council’s Secretary General, William Nye, to a consultation on same-sex marriage by the Episcopal Church of the US (News, 20 April and 27 April).

More than 300 members of the clergy and laity, from 40 out of 42 dioceses, including 30 members of the General Synod, have signed a letter offering an “alternative response” to the consultation.

“Mr Nye has mistakenly sent the wrong letter to you regarding your invitation to comment on how your provision of same-sex marriage rites has affected the Church of England,” the letter begins. “The one which the majority of us (according to research surveys on attitudes to same-sex marriage amongst English Anglicans) expected him to send simply says:

‘Thank you for leading the way on this important issue. We are grateful that you have recognised that not all married couples can have children and that a gender-neutral approach will enable us to become a loving and inclusive Church for all. We still have a few problems to sort out over here with those who keep threatening to leave, but we know that your actions have given great hope to thousands and shown that the Church is not as homophobic as it can sometimes appear.’”

A footnote refers to a survey carried out by YouGov in 2016, in which 42 per cent of respondents who identified as Anglican said that same-sex marriage was “right” (39 per cent said that it was wrong). Both the survey and the letter were organised by Jayne Ozanne, an LGBT campaigner who represents the diocese of Oxford on the General Synod. It was “perplexing”, she said, that Mr Nye’s response “does not reflect the level of dissent shown by recent decisions taken by the General Synod”.

A Church House spokesperson said that Mr Nye had replied to the consultation “as Provincial Secretary of the Church of England”, and had “consulted both Archbishops. It was concluded that, as there was not time for full consultation of the House of Bishops — which meets only twice a year — a reply should be sent at staff level. Church House staff therefore produced a reply, in consultation with the Archbishops and the Bishop of Coventry, the chairman of the Faith and Order Commission.”

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