Following Thursday’s resolution at the Hereford Diocesan Synod on the formulation of a discretionary liturgy for use following the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage, the Church of England has today issued the following Press Release.
Hereford Diocesan Synod Motion
21 October 2017
Following the passing of a resolution at the Diocesan Synod in Hereford, a spokesperson for the Church of England said: “We are aware of the resolution passed by Hereford Diocesan Synod calling for the General Synod to debate a motion on services of prayer and dedication for same-sex couples.
“The diocesan synod’s decision does not change the teaching or practice of the Church of England, whether in Hereford or anywhere else in the Church.
“Under the Standing Orders of the General Synod, the motion will fall to be debated at the Synod at a time to be decided by its Business Committee.
“Clergy of the Church of England are unable to marry couples of the same sex and, under the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Same Sex Marriage, ‘services of blessing’ should not be provided for those who enter into civil partnerships or same-sex marriages.
“It is recognised, however, that there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England over questions relating to human sexuality and the House of Bishops has recently embarked on the preparation of a major new teaching document on marriage and sexuality.
“We are seeking to find ways forward rooted in scripture and the Christian faith as we have received it and which values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God.”
Whilst readers may be aware of the content of this statement from media reports, today’s Press Release provides the authoritative version of the Church’s reaction to the Hereford Synod resolution. Whilst this is the same as the version in the Daily Telegraph, the last paragraph was omitted in The Guardian. The Hereford Diocese web site carries a recording of an interview with Bishop Richard on BBC R4 Today about Diocesan Synod motion asking for same sex prayers.
The Press Release is essentially a “Steady the Buffs” reaction which re-iterates the status quo; this was probably considered necessary in view of some over-enthusiastic reporting in the media suggesting that discussion of the issue at General Synod was now a fait accompli. In addition, a number of commentators have been quick to air particular views on the proposed liturgy.
A future post will consider the legal implications of the Hereford resolution.