Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Questions (and some answers) at Chelmsford November Diocesan Synod

Q.2 Revd. Steven Hanna (Barking & Dagenham) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

"A year ago, Bishop John was asked in this Synod what he thought would be the impact of his decision to become a patron of Changing Attitude on those in the Diocese who object to the campaigning stance of that organization.

That patronage has now resulted in a delay to the ordination of a candidate who has passed through the selection processes of this diocese and of the national Church, who has had three years full-time training and who has been offered a post in this diocese as a curate.

Will the Bishop now agree that his patronage of Changing Attitude has become an impediment to the relationship between himself and some of those in his own diocese?"

Q.7 For written reply - Stuart Kimber (Southend) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

"In the light of :

1. Your Patronage of ‘Changing Attitude' whose declared aim is ‘Working for gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender affirmation within the Anglican Communion';
2. Your unwillingness to step down as a Patron of ‘Changing Attitude' despite numerous requests from members of this Diocese to do so;
3. Your tacit support of your Chaplain in his convening of a ‘secret' meeting (under the Chatham House rule) of homosexual clergy and their partners due to take place on November 29th this year, at which Archbishop Rowan will speak and celebrate Communion; and
4. Your continuing appointment of clergy in same-sex partnerships to posts within the Diocese;

And in view of the Christian teaching, regularly affirmed by statements issuing from Bishops across the Anglican Communion, that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture' :

What pastoral and legal advice can you give clergy in this Diocese who sincerely desire to fulfil their oath of canonical obedience to yourself ‘in all things lawful and honest' (Canon C14), but who feel you are failing in this matter to ‘uphold sound and wholesome doctrine and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions' (Canon C18), and therefore feel driven to explore the possibility of Alternative or Extended Episcopal Oversight?"

Answer from Eddie Carden, the Diocesan Synodical and Pastoral Secretary
“The first piece of pastoral advice is to talk and pray about these concerns with the Bishop, who would be delighted to do so! To prepare the way, you might find it a help to talk with the Archdeacon. Second, always use your spiritual director to ensure your own personal preparation.

On the legal side, there is no such thing as Alternative Episcopal Oversight, and Extended Oversight only applies in relation to the issues surrounding the ordination of women to the priesthood.

In general, as Christians it is important for all of us to be generous to one another and to avoid putting the worst interpretation on events.”

Q.8 For written reply - Peter Nicholson (Southend) to ask the Bishop of Chelmsford:

1. "In their guidelines on civil partnerships, the House of Bishops stated that, 'The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity' (para 20). Nevertheless, it noted that civil partnerships will be 'widely seen as being predominantly between gay and lesbian people in sexually active relationships' (para 21), and therefore advised clergy in such relationships to 'expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.' As a matter of policy in this diocese, are such assurances being sought and given?
2. Where appointments are being made of clergy with same-sex partners how will the bishop to make clear to the majority of people in the area concerned, who are not aware of the subtleties in the House of Bishop's guidelines, that, as paragraph 27 states, 'the Church's teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged'?"

Read the other answers here.

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