Recommendation #13 states, in part, “The church needs to find ways of honoring and affirming those Christians who ”¦.in good conscience have entered partnerships with a firm intention of life-long fidelity.” Is this not a change in church doctrine?
The actual foundational reasons for the report are stated below.
“16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs120, 380”“3)”
“17. While the Church abides by its traditional teaching such public services would be of the nature of a pastoral accommodation and so the Church of England should not authorize a formal liturgy for use for this purpose. The House of Bishops should consider whether guidance should be issued. (Paragraphs 118, 384”“8, 391”“3)”
But doesn’t ”˜guidance’ become policy and policy lead to doctrine?
Does this sound familiar? “Resolved that bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same gender marriage civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church. “ (Excerpted from Resolution CO 56, TEC 76th General Convention, 2009)
Of course, assurances are given that “The recommendations do not propose any change in the church’s teaching on sexual conduct.” This is stated in the report from Archbishops Welby and Sentamu (28 November 2013). It is restated in the college of Bishops affirmative response to the Pilling Report (27 January 2014). Does this sound familiar also? Both Katharine Schori and Bonnie Anderson (head of house of deputies) said, “Nothing has changed” after the resolution passed in General Convention.
And all of this is repeatedly stated, with “”¦the guidance of the Holy Spirit”, “”¦reflecting upon the Scriptures.” and “”¦attempting to discern the mind of Christ.” So much of all these documents is boilerplate cobbled together to ”˜stay on message’.
The Pilling Report should have been research based outcome but it was outcome-based research. Did the person(s) who wrote the “Findings and recommendations” section actually review the preceding research section? The two are disconnected.
Did anyone doubt how things would turn out thus far? Does anyone doubt where this will end? Will there be a formal split between GAFCON and the CoE? It seems inevitable. Kyrie eleison