By Canon Phil Ashey, AAC
When +Justin Welby is enthroned as the new Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21 (Feast of Thomas Cranmer), he will immediately inherit a stunning challenge to his ability to lead the rest of the Anglican Communion. That challenge was summed up in an almost-buried seventh paragraph of the Church of England's House of Bishop's Report of December 20, 2012. In short, paragraph 7 reported that being in a civil partnership is no longer an impediment to becoming a bishop in the Church:
7. "The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England's approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group's work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate." (Emphasis added)
(Entire report here
Translation: Gay clergy in civil partnerships will be allowed to become bishops if, when questioned, they promise to be sexually abstinent.
Of course, even gay rights activists conceded
that "In practice at least half of the House of Bishops ignore the guidelines and do not ask [clergy in civil partnerships] questions about celibacy," when placing them in congregations.
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