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Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’

By Ed Thornton, Church Times

THE Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, expressed his disappointment this week with the way in which the news emerged of the opening of the episcopate to priests in civil partnerships as bishops ( News, 4 January).

Bishop Paterson was appointed to chair a group looking into whether clergy in civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate ( News, 2 December 2011). The House of Bishops had recommended a moratorium on such appointments until the group reported ( News, 8 July 2011).

Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group – whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher – had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.

The group's report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?

Bishop Paterson said that although the group "did make a proposal", he could not say what it was. In addition, it had assumed that it would be asked to produce a final report. In May, however, the House of Bishops standing committee took over responsibility for the review.

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