Joint statement from the Bishops of Chelmsford Diocese regarding the House of Bishops’ statement on marriage and civil partnerships
31st Jan 2020
Last week the House of Bishops issued a statement on marriage and civil partnerships that was intended to enable us to address questions about the change in law that now allows opposite sex couples to enter into a civil partnerships if they wish. In doing so, the paper reiterated the church's current and traditional teaching on marriage. However, because its intention was to address legal issues, its tone was hurtful and offensive to a great many people. Furthermore, it took no account of the ongoing discussions about marriage, relationships and human sexuality that we are currently having in The Church of England through the Living in Love and Faith process.
This has all been a grave and damaging failure and risks setting back that process. We hope this doesn’t happen and, as your four bishops are committed to this process. At the College of Bishops’ meeting this week the following statement was adopted and which we hope begins to rebuild trust.
Statement following the College of Bishops' Meeting
We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.
At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary, as together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.
Later this year the Living in Love and Faith learning resources will be published. All the dioceses in the Church of England will then be asked to discuss them. That will eventually lead to discussion and decision-making at the General Synod of the Church of England. In other words, we are in the middle of a process of discussing and deciding how we can appropriately embody the ‘radical new Christian inclusion’ that Archbishop Justin spoke of a few years ago, and which began this journey. Publishing that statement last week in that way was extremely unhelpful. We are very sorry.