Where we are right now, is not where any of us would like to be.
But I continue to believe that we can find a way of living in love and faith.
Furthermore, I stand by the statements I made in February. There will need to be some sort of provision. But just as the way forward that is being proposed is pastoral, and in my view does not mean a change in the Church of England’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony, so I believe the reassurance and provision that we need should be pastoral. This is why I will be supporting the amendment being put forward by the Bishop of Oxford because, as things stand, I am concerned that clergy using the commended prayers might find themselves vulnerable to a legal challenge if their use of the prayers looks to someone else to be a standalone service.
Something that allows standalone services for an experimental period seems to me to be a sensible and pastoral way forward. It gives clergy and parishes who want to use the Prayers of Love and Faith the legal protection they need. And because this will be on an opt-in basis, clergy and parishes who in good conscience won’t use the prayers will be under no compunction or compulsion so to do, nor will they be disadvantaged in any way by their decision.
We will, of course, need further discussions about how this provision continues to run through all that we are proposing. I’m sure the Bishop of London will say more about this when we get to that bit of our agenda. I also recognise that the pastoral guidance that is such a key component in this work should not be thought of as a fixed entity but a body of guidance that will evolve.
But my purpose in this address is not to anticipate the debate. Rather, it is to ask us to lift our eyes above the debate to see Jesus.
Pray for all involved, that we may come together well and be granted wisdom in our discussions and decisions. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/LHXGGGk9FM
— Archbishop of York (@CottrellStephen) November 13, 2023