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LGBT topics and Christian faith groups

The Church of England and LGBT topics:
Events and developments: 2010 & 2011

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In this web site, the acronym LGB stands
for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual persons

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Developments concerning homosexuality from 2010 & 2011:

  • 2010-MAY-28: Archbishop of Canterbury criticizes consecration of lesbian as bishop: Earlier in May, Rev. Mary Glasspool became the second openly gay bishop. She was consecrated in the Los Angeles diocese. The first was Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, in 2004. This appears to have acerbated frictions within the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury urged that the Episcopal Church, USA, be given a diminished role in the Communion. He said that the consecration would further divide the 77 million denomination. 3

  • 2010-NOV-23: Church of England faced with problems due to civil partnerships: The Government's Equality Act recently became effective. It is similar to American civil unions in that it involves loving, committed same-sex couples registering their relationship with the government and obtaining many of the rights, privileges and protections for themselves and their children that opposite-sex married couples enjoy. As originally written, civil partnerships cannot take place in religious buildings and must be entirely secular in nature. However, a proposed change to the law would enable faith groups to offer their places of worship to host civil partnership registration ceremonies. William Fittall, secretary general of the Church of England's parliament, the General Synod,  said that "The gay issue will not go away." He expects that liberals in the Church will advocate that the General Synod opt into this arrangement for their lesbian, gay and bisexual members. He does not expect that will come to pass. However, he said: "I am sure there will be people in the Church of England who have different views on this subject who will argue that it should happen." 1

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  • 2011-MAY-25: Church of England unable to decide about discriminating against LGB bishops: The Guardian reported that:

    "A meeting of Church of England bishops in York this week has broken up without agreement on whether gay clergy should ever be allowed to be chosen for promotion to bishoprics.

    The leadership of the established church remains tied in knots over how far it can comply with the Equality Act in its treatment of gay people. Church lawyers have told the bishops that while they cannot take into account that someone is homosexual in considering them for preferment, they also cannot put forward clergy in active same-sex relationships and, even if they are celibate, must consider whether they can 'act as a focus for unity' to their flocks if appointed to a diocese.

    Conservative evangelicals remain bitterly opposed to the ordination of gay people, even though many clergy are more or less openly gay, and some are in same-sex partnerships."

    The newspaper discussed the leak of what it called "an anguished and devastating memorandum" written by the Very Rev Colin Slee, who was the dean of Southwark Cathedral, shortly before he died in 2010-NOV. It disclosed that Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, vetoed candidates for consecration as bishop in the south London diocese. John is gay and is in a non-sexual relationship with another member of the clergy.

    Slee's memorandum says that there are several gay bishops in the Church of England:

    "... who have been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions. ... This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear. ... We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly. The meeting was not a fair consideration at all; they were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam equally, despite the fact that their CVs were startlingly in an entirely different and better league than the other two candidates …

    "The archbishop of Canterbury was bad tempered throughout. When it came to voting, certainly two – possibly three – members were in tears and [Williams] made no acknowledgement but carried on regardless. At a critical point Archbishop Sentamu and three other members simultaneously went to the lavatory, after which the voting patterns changed."

    The Guardian continued:

    "The House of Bishops sought legal advice to discover whether it would be illegal to deny John a job. A briefing in [2010-] December from the Church House legal department appears to state that though it would be illegal to discriminate against him because he is a celibate gay person, it was perfectly in order to discriminate against him because there are Christians who cannot accept gay people.

    The briefing states: "It is not open to a crown nominations committee or a bishop making a suffragan appointment to propose someone who is in a sexually active same-sex relationship; it is not open to them to take into account the mere fact that someone is gay by sexual orientation."

    Asked whether the doctrine that a bishop must be a focus of unity in his diocese meant that in practice Jeffrey John would never become one, Williams has suggested that evangelical attitudes might change. 2

  • 2011-JUL-01: Church of England bars gay priests in relationships from being consecration as bishops: The Associated Press reported that the:
    "Church of England bishops said ... that they had temporarily barred priests in civil partnerships from being appointed as bishops. The church’s policy is that gay male priests who are celibate are eligible to become bishops. The statement from the House of Bishops said a review of civil relationships would be completed next year."
    There are allegedly several existing bishops in the Church of England who are in same-sex relationships. Apparently, this rule only applies to new bishops.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Tim Ross, "Church of England braced for fresh row over gay rights," The Telegraph, 2010-NOV-23, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  2. Andrew Brown, "Church of England tied in knots over allowing gay men to become bishops," The Guardian, 2011-MAY-25, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  3. "Archbishop of Canterbury slaps Episcopal Church for openly gay bishops," CNN, 2010-MAY-28, at: http://articles.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2010 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2011-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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