THE College and House of Bishops met for three days this week to draft the outcomes of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) discernment process, which are to be presented to the General Synod in 2023.
These outcomes, or recommendations, regarding same-sex relationships have not yet been made public, however. Once they are formally agreed in a final LLF meeting of the bishops in January, they will be put to the vote when the Synod next meets in London in February.
A press release issued at the conclusion of the meeting on Wednesday said: “Bishops spent time praying, reflecting, and discussing a spectrum of possible ways forward for the Church regarding same-sex relationship and marriage, and the theological basis for each. They will continue those discussions at a third meeting in mid-January at which it is anticipated that they will agree an ‘offering’ to the Church, giving a clear sense of direction.”
The Synod would then be invited to “indicate its views” on these. This might include a vote on whether the Church should change canon law to permit same-sex blessings or marriages.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullaly, who chairs the LLF next steps group, said at the conclusion of the meeting that differences had been “celebrated”. The bishops “manifested a desire to find a way forward that will be good news to the Church and to wider society.”
The Archbishop of York said that the College “continued to be engaged positively, robustly and frankly” in conversation over the issue. The Archbishop of Canterbury prayed for guidance “about God’s intention for human life in all its glory and joy”.
ST BARNABAS’S, EALINGAnother vigil is held outside St Paul’s, Covent Garden, also on Tuesday night
Earlier this week, in an interview with The Times, Archbishop Welby said that he had no intention of revealing his personal view whether the Church should permit same-sex marriage as long as he was in post. Speaking during his visit to Ukraine, he said: “I am not sure I will be able to say during my time in this job. I can express my own view as far as I know my own mind — and it doesn’t change.
“But the role of Archbishop is to be a focus of unity. That isn’t just convenient or pragmatic. In Christian thinking that is part of God’s call to church leaders. Therefore, I have to be convinced before God that it’s the right moment to do it — and not just politically.”
In an article for Via Media on Tuesday, the Revd Dr Charlie Bell, who is a Fellow at Girton College Cambridge, and Assistant Curate at St John the Divine, Kennington (Interview, 19 August), warned the bishops who were meeting that silence on the issue “in the name of ‘unity’” was not an option. “Refusing to take a position when it comes to the dignity of others is not morally neutral — it comes with a moral cost. Silence in the face of oppression is complicity.”
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Stephen Croft, who recently became the first diocesan bishop to call for an end to the Church’s ban on same-sex marriage (News, 4 November), said that the Church was seen as “unjust” on the issue. “That is the deepest thing of concern when we are meant to be about justice,” he said. “There is a great deal at stake over the next few months. We risk being seen as irrelevant.”