On the afternoon of Wednesday 28 February the General Synod will be asked to debate a motion on Civil Partnerships.
Since the introduction of Civil Partnerships and the feeble response from the House of Bishops there has been widespread concern about the implications of their advice. In the light of this The Revd Paul Perkin (Southwark) will move hte following motion.
‘That this Synod, deeply concerned that
(a) in an understandable desire to remedy injustice and remove unjust discrimination, the Government’s Civil Partnership Act undermines the distinctiveness and fundamental importance to society of the relationship of marriage;
(b) the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement, while reiterating the Church’s basic teaching on marriage, has produced a recipe for confusion by not stating clearly that civil partnerships entered into under the CP Act would be inconsistent with Christian teaching;
(c) that the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement has given to bishops the task of ensuring that clergy who enter into these partnerships adhere to church teaching in the area of sexuality without giving the bishops the clear means to do so; and
(d) that by declaring that lay people who enter into such partnerships should not be asked about the nature of their relationship, in the context of preparation for baptism and confirmation, as well as for the purposes of receiving Holy Communion, the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement has compromised pastoral discipline at the local level:
(e) declare its support for bishops, clergy and other ministers who continue to minister the godly discipline required by the scriptures and the canons and request the House of Bishops to set up a study of the ways in which that discipline is being applied and the implications thereof for future pastoral guidance and bring a report to Synod by the July 2007 Group of Sessions.’
Although a number of Bishops have issued their own advice in place of or in addition to the original statement it is clear that the House of Bishops do not wish to revise their advice. Therefore, they have put up the Bishop of LIverpool to propose an amendment which will replace completely the original motion. What this means is that the Bishops are not willing to listen to criticism and have turned this important issue into a test of loyalty becuase now to agree to the motion will be seen as a rejection of the House's authority. This is another blow for the supposedly democratic nature of Synodical government.
The Bishop of Liverpool to move
‘Leave out all words after ‘this Synod’ and insert the words
“ a. acknowledge the diversity of views within the Church of England on whether Parliament might better have addressed the injustices affecting persons of the same sex wishing to share a common life had it done so in a way that avoided creating a legal framework with many similarities to marriage;
b. recognise the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as a balanced and sensitive attempt faithfully to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships; and
c. note the intention of the House to keep the matter under review.”
This motion clearly contradicts the original motion and attempts to present the House of Bishops statement as balanced and sensitive, when in reality it is an abandonment of Biblical convictions.