Same sex ‘blessings’ recommended in report

Clergy could be allowed to bless same-sex relationships, if the recommendations of the Pilling report are accepted by the House of Bishops.

The report, published today, recommends that ‘clergy, in agreement with their PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service.’ However, the report stresses that clergy should be under no obligation to do so.

Interestingly, the role of the diocesan bishop will be removed from the decision, in a move that could see splits emerge.

The long-awaited report says that the Church should repent of its history of homophobia, but also argues that no one should be accused of homophobia ‘solely for articulating traditional Christian teaching on same sex relationships.’

The review of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality was commissioned by the House of Bishops in January 2012, and Sir Joseph Pilling was appointed to chair it. Four bishops were part of the review: the Bishops of Gloucester, Fulham and Warwick. However, the fourth bishop, the Rt Rev Keith Sinclair of Birkenhead, dissented from the report and his reasons for dissenting are included in a separate chapter.

One of his criticisms was that terminology used was vague and although the word was carefully avoided, would indeed be viewed as a ‘blessing’.

He also criticized the view in the report that the Bible teaching on the subject was ‘inconclusive’.

Another of the 18 recommendations said that clergy should not be questioned ‘intrusively’ about their sex lives.

Sir Joseph told us today that the ‘most important’ of the recommendations was the first: “We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained.”

But the review also threw out a major challenge to the Church. They propose that a Church-wide consultation on the report be carried out over a period of two years. Sir Joseph pointed to the success of the Indaba process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and suggested that this pointed a way ahead for these consultations.

He also welcomed the proposal for the Church to engage in ‘close dialogue’ with the Anglican Communion on the subject, but admitted that both sides in the debate “will be disappointed in this report,” because it steers a middle path, when both sides would have preferred a stronger response.

The 203-page report will be debated by the House of Bishops next month and by the full College of Bishops in January.

In a joint statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: “This is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.

“The House of Bishops will be meeting next month and the College of Bishops the following month to consider the Report and decide how such a process might best be shaped. In view of the interest in the Report we have decided that it should be published now, without delay.

“As the chair notes in his foreword, the issues with which the Report grapples are difficult and divisive. In Sir Joseph’s words their ‘disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith’. Our prayer is that the process of reflection that will now be needed in the Church of England, shaped by the House of Bishops and the College, will be characterised by a similar spirit.”

7 Responses to "Same sex ‘blessings’ recommended in report"

  1. Pingback: Anglican Blessings for Same – sex Unions? | Queering the Church

  2. Bruce Patterson   02/12/2013 at 15:17

    The church of England bishops seem to be proving they can’t speak clearly about anything. I suggest all PCCs postpone payment of their quota until a clear decision is made; after all we can’t show up our leaders by being more decisive now, can we?

    The idea that ‘clergy should not be questioned “intrusively” about their sex lives is fair enough; we should merely ask them to affirm, at risk of perjury, that they are seeking to live in accordance with the principles of ‘Issues’ (we’re not targeting the occasional failure, we’re concerned with blatant disregard). If their affirmation proves to be a lie, then their pension rights should be surrendered in their entirety, as well as being immediately removed from office.

  3. MStevens   06/12/2013 at 12:53

    Blessing civil partnerships is the start of a slippery slope. The Scriptures are quite clear on same sex relationships. “Thank you” to the Bishop of Birkenhead; I am sorry to see a suffragan bishop from my own diocese of Coventry signing this report, and to have to be in impaired communion with him.

  4. stanley hesketh   16/01/2014 at 21:52

    How can this take place in the name of god?when he has said that it can not.the the Queen beining the head of both church and the goverment of the England.

  5. WhatWouldGodSay?   19/01/2014 at 08:19

    How is one supposed to bless something which scripture clearly condemns?

  6. David Pitt   24/01/2014 at 11:15

    To the Bishop’s -Standup for Marriage debate re-“ThePilling Report” Action :-

    Please consider these following points when you all gather next Monday.

    *What are Bishops for?

    *Why are you having this debate ?

    *Do you still believe the word of God?

    As teachers & leaders you will be judged more strictley than your church members,therefor do not let the worlds values cloud your judgement, or abandon your flock to the wolves. Unless you debate from the Holy scriptures objectively (Thus sayest the Lord) you will compromise and ultimatly become part of the ecumenical/multifaith global church which will eventually be headed up by the Antichrist himself!(as the Bible has already prophesied)
    We are living in the last days apostasy is rife, many leaders are unregenerate and do not believe they are offended by our Lord’s words which will judge us all, the EU bill of human rigths will not stand in our eternal state!
    I’m old enough to remembr when sodomites were locked up for the obominable crime of buggery, today they are running the world and sadly the “church”. Please remember the only sin that takes us to hell is the sin of unbelief.

    Yours in Christ David Pitt.

  7. Helen   27/01/2014 at 20:47

    I’ve just written to the Bishop of Birkenhead with a copy to all Bishops in the C of E. I commended him for making a stand against the Pilling Report. 1 Corinthians 14:8 says “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” One of my favourite theologans, Dr Chuck Missler, recently made a very profound statement. He said “Romans chapter 1 is not about homosexuality”. When I heard this my immediate reaction was “hang on, what on earth does he mean, of course Romans 1 is about homosexuality!” He went on to say that homosexuality was the RESULT of “worshipping the creature rather than the Creator”. Verse 25 says “they exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator”. Verse 26 “therefore God gave them up to vile passions”. That’s awesome and should make us tremble with fear that God would hand some of His precious children over to this. Understanding that God is a God of love as well as of judgement is something many find hard to grasp. Within the C of E and other denominations there are those who know the Lord and those who do not know Him. Scripture says that “wheat and tares will grow together and the angels will do the separating at harvest time (the end of the age)”. Sadly many denominations are not preaching the full counsel of God. The only way we can know Truth is by studying the Bible individually and this means firstly saying we are sorry for our past life, asking Jesus to come into our lives, being spiritually reborn and letting the Holy Spirit instruct us. Jesus became angry with religious leaders as He said they would not enter the Kingdom themselves and prevented others from doing so. This situation has not changed since He walked the earth – there is nothing new under the sun! Jesus also said “If you love me you will keep my Word and My Father and I will come and live with you Thy Word is Truth (John 17). My family fell away from churchgoing because of negative experiences in denominations. I believe God has got His hand on my children, I am their mother and pray continually for them. Sadly organisations become corrupt, to a greater or lesser extent. My family and I attended my Niece’s wedding in Devon. She was married by a vicar whom my sister and I had known from childhood. He had since, married, divorced and been through a civil ceremony with his male partner in an hotel. My eldest daughter’s first remark to me on the way home from the wedding was “Mum that was not a good advert for Christianity was it!” I had to agree with her. Instead of defending our rights (Jesus did not defend Himself) He just spoke Truth, we must be about our Father’s business sharing the True Gospel. Jesus is coming back VERY soon for His True Bride. We are living in the last days (as in the days of Noah, Matthew 24)and this rise in militancy is a sign of the times. Domination, manipulation and intimidation are the absolute enemies of our precious Judeo-Christian faith. My burning passion is to snatch as many out of the fire as possible before its too late. Every person alive today needs a relationship with Jesus (our precious Saviour) through His Holy Spirit. Making the prayer of commitment to Jesus, as a very dear Anglican Vicar responsible for my conversion told me many years ago, is like buying a ticket at a railway station and getting on the train journey. Then the sanctification process with the Holy Spirit begins and His work is conviction of Sin and Righteousness and Judgement (John 16:8) NOT condemnation! When the soon rapture of the church takes place to go to the Marriage of the Lamb in heaven, sadly many will be left behind. Those precious Creator’s children will have to go through the Great Tribulation which is shortly coming and that will be hell on earth! Judgement begins at the household of God! (1 Peter 4:17) so making a stand and saying that the Bible is God’s infallible Word to us is absolutely right.