As made clear in the Ordinal, Bishops of the Church of England promise both to fashion their own life and that of their household according to the way of Christ and to be guardians of the Church's doctrine. Given the ambiguous nature of civil partnerships, it would not be credible for a person in such a partnership to make such promises. Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not. This is presumably why many clergy in such partnerships refuse to "give assurances" to their bishops that theirs is a "non-sexual" relationship. Since a decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church's doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone. Otherwise it looks too much like salami-slicing away at the Church’s teaching. A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church. Such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.
Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Secretary)
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