News for Week Ending 2/17/2014
CoE General Synod meets; advances women bishops planThe General Synod of the Church of England met February 10–12, 2014. Its most notable accomplishment was to move forward the plan to allow for women to become bishops. The measure will now be submitted to dioceses. If a majority of them give their approval, final approval by the General Synod could be obtained in July—the Synod approved a fast-track procedure to move the measure forward quickly—and Parliament could enact the provisions for women bishops into law before the end of the year. Episcopal News Service has explained all this in a story that is especially helpful for Episcopalians. The press release from the Church of England on the General Synod action is here.
On the afternoon of February 12, the General Synod had a discussion of the Pilling Report, which began with a presentation by Sir Joseph Pilling. Audio of that session can be found on SoundCloud.
Earlier in the day, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addressed the General Synod. His presidential address can be read here or heard here. He spoke of change and the need to live with different views. A story in The Telegraph offers some quotes from the address. In a rather bizarre response to Welby’s address, Church Society issued a press release declaring that the archbishop should be about “ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.”
CoE bishops offer pastoral guidanceThe House of Bishops of the Church of England met February 13, 2014, to respond to the Pilling Report and to the advent of legal same-sex marriage next month. On February 14, the bishops issued their “Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.” This statement has been a great disappointment to LGBT advocates. The tone of it is perhaps best captured in this sentence: “However we [CoE bishops] are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.” In particular, the guidance from the House of Bishops fails to encourage the local pastoral accommodation suggested by the Pilling Report in paragraph 387 and following. Prayers are allowed, but not blessings.
The Thinking Anglican post on the new statement has attractive more than 100 comments, most of them disapproving. We can hardly review all the reactions to the bishops’ statement here. Interested readers can follow the links at Thinking Anglican posts here and here. Of particular interest is a commentary from the LGB&TI Anglican Coalition. (See Thinking Anglican post and comments following.)
Anti-gay Kansas bill killed (maybe)On February 12, 2014, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the Kansas House of Representatives passed House Bill 2453 by a vote of 72–49. The bill would allow discrimination against same-sex couples in a variety of circumstances on the basis of personal religious belief. The Episcopal bishops of Kansas and Western Kansas wrote a letter to the Kansas Senate February 14 urging that body to reject the bill. PoliticusUSA reported February 15 that the Senate, which, like the House, is heavily Republican, would indeed kill the bill, not because it is discrimatory, but because it could harm the Republican brand nationally.
Virginia closer to marriage equalityAccording to The Huffington Post, a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional February 13, 2014. The opinion and order of U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen can be found here. Wright Allen stayed her opinion pending appeal. Federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have also recently struck down bans on same-sex marriage. (See the review of the current legal status of gay marriage in the U.S. done by the Los Angeles Times.)
Chicago Consultation says African archbishops errThe Chicago Consultation, an Episcopal/Anglican group supporting “the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion,” issued a press release February 14, 2014, decrying the support, by the archbishops of Uganda and Nigeria, of anti-gay legislation in their respective nations. The Consultation’s statement concludes with this:
We call on the archbishops to reconsider their support for these laws, and we call on the archbishops’ allies in the United States and the United Kingdom—organizations such as Anglican Mainstream, the Anglican Church in North America and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America—to dissociate themselves from the archbishops’ positions or explain why they will not do so.