Wednesday, 19 February 2014

To the Bishops of the Church of England: thanks for nothing guys!

The Church of England badge is copyright  The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

The English Bishop's have got themselves in a fine old mess haven't they?  Having (just about) recovered their reputation after the fiasco over women bishop's legislation and their resounding defeat in the House of Lords over same sex marriage, they seemed to doing OK with Archbishop Welby pointing out that their attitude to LGBT people is being seen as morally equivalent to racism and the Pilling Report suggesting very gently that some form of service to celebrate a Same Sex Marriage might be a half-decent idea.  Then they lost it.

It is never a good idea to issue a press release at 2am in the morning.  It looks as if you're trying to bury bad news or sneak something in "under the radar.  You look shifty and duplicitous.  The restating of pretty much the line of "Issues in Human Sexuality" (1991) was a disaster.  It was widely critiqued at the time as a sop to vocal  Conservative Evangelicals, especially following the suppression of the Osborne Report (I remember it well, I was at Theological College at the time).  20 years on and social and public attitudes have moved on massively, so recycling "The Laity can have partners, but the clergy can't" is deeply stupid as more people then than now see it as inconsistent, cruel and unfair.  Which it is.  It is pure stupidity to tell your clergy that the laws says they can marry but they can't unless you have a long establish tradition of compulsory clerical celibacy like the Roman Catholic Church.  It has boomeranged badly, especially as 1 Conservative Evangelical Bishop has already called in his civilly partnered clergy for "a chat", sparking fears of witch hunts in dioceses with Evangelical leadership.

I'm glad I'm in Scotland.  But also hope we don't get too much of a flood of refugee clergy job hunting up here.  We already have a fairly high proportion of imports who don't know the province or it's unique style.  Too many is not good for our identity.


  1. I agree with your comments. I wrote to my Vestry Secretary asking for the debate to begin at church level. I did not receive a reply but my Rector emailed to say it is up to Diocesan Synod to determine the nature of any consultations with the laity!! Then there is the Code of Canons....

  2. The trouble is that we are starting a process up here described as "Cascade" where the Bishops invite selected people to a conference who then go out to their and local Area councils and "facilitate" conversations. I'm not all that impressed by that managed approach. And groups like Changing Attitude Scotland are boycotting it because they don't think confidentiality is enough of a safety guarantee. This is all to take place before any moves on the Canons. Kick the ball into the long grass seems to be the approach.