Current Affairs

Anglican synod to discuss embracing gays

Tony Grew February 6, 2007
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The General Synod of the Church of England will return to the controversial topic of homosexuality when it meets at the end of this month.

The synod meets twice a year to discuss the business of the church, and is made up of bishops, priests and lay people.

There are two motions up for discussion about gay people.

One from Rev Paul Perkin of Southwark in London, to be debated on the 28th February, accuses civil partnerships of undermining marriage.

Rev Perkin also criticises the bishops for, “not stating clearly that civil partnerships would be inconsistent with Christian teaching.”

Earlier on that day the synod will discuss a motion from Rev Mary Gilbert of the Lichfield Diocese.

She wants the Church to welcome lesbian and gay Christians at every level of the Church, including as priests.

The Bishop of Gloucester will move an amendment praising:

“The continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican communion.”

This is highly significant, as proceedings will be opened with a report on the meeting of the 38 Anglican primates, or archbishops, from across the world next week.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly of his fear that the Anglican communion could schism over fundamental disagreements about how to treat gay and lesbian people.

As early as last March Rowan Williams warned that the Anglican communion faces a “rupture” following divisions over homosexuality.

The Anglican Church has been split over the issue of sexuality since the ordination of the openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in the United States in 2003.

Last year, reported that senior African bishops claimed that the Church of England was “evil” to allow the ordination of gay clergy.

The appointment of a woman, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as head of the US Anglican communion, caused even more tension, exacerbated by her support of Bishop Robinson and of civil partnerships.

Many on both sides of the divide are openly talking about a schism, with the most likely outcome being the fundamentalists forming their own hardline church, while the bulk of the church would remain in communion with the Archbishop.

Speaking to ITV as part of a documentary on Canterbury Cathedral in December 2006, Dr Williams appeared to be pessimistic that the church can continue as a united denomination.

“We can’t take it for granted that the Anglican communion will go on as it always has been,” he said.

“There’s no way of moving on without asking the hard questions.”

The secretary general of the General Synod, William Fittall, said that the mood of the synod would be greatly affected by the outcome of the primates’ meeting.

“The feel of the debates will depend on what the mood of the Communion is after Tanzania,” he said, according to

The General Synod will be held at Church House in London from February 26th until the 1st of March.

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