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Church News

Bishops speak out against House of Bishops' statement on sex in civil partnerships

by Cara Bentley

Three Anglican bishops have spoken about their personal disapproval of a statement released by the House of Bishops last week.

The bishops of Gloucester, Worcester and Reading have said they are upset at the hurt caused by the statement, with the first two being part of the House of Bishops who it was attributed to.

The statement, which Premier reported on last week, stated current Church of England teaching, which says the only partnerships to be formally blessed by clergy are heterosexual married ones and not any form of civil partnership, because of the lack of covenantal commitment in the vows and because it doesn't require sexual intimacy.

The Bishop of Gloucester released a response, saying: "I was deeply frustrated and saddened by the way that the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships was published on Thursday. I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that."

Bishop Rachel said she saw the content in December and that it was simply reiterating current Church practise in the light of a change in law in 2019 that allows opposite sex couple to get a civil partnership.

However, she said she regretted not asking more questions about how the statement would be published and criticised the fact it was published in "cold isolation" and omitted a pastoral context.

"The word ‘love’ emanating from the generous love of God is one that needs to be heard and lived and I am extremely sorry that it has not been heard in the publication of the House of Bishops statement" she wrote.

 

The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Rev John Inge tweeted to say: "I echo all that Bishop Rachel says."

The Bishop of Reading, although not a part of the House of Bishops as a suffragan bishop, Olivia Graham, added: "As C of E‘s newest bishop (though not in HoB) I was deeply saddened by the unpastoral tone of the HoB statement on civil partnerships. Cold. Legalistic. Loveless. Astonishing timing - mid LLF discussions. Please know that Bishops are not of a mind on this #sorry."

She was referencing the Living in Love and Faith project which is a document being written by bishops about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality.

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