Eleven bishops, including four diocesans, have warned that a future pronouncement on sexuality may have “practical consequences” relating to the structure of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England.
The 1800-word letter, posted on the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council, is addressed to the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth. Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project, set up by the House of Bishops as an attempt to look more deeply into matters of sexuality after earlier attempts failed to heal divisions (News, 30 June 2017).
The project, which involves groups looking at the social, scientific, biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral aspects of sexuality, is expected to report back in early 2020.
The signatories to the letter (ten men and one woman) are the Bishops of Blackburn, Carlisle, Durham, and Peterborough, as well as the Suffragan or Area Bishops of Birkenhead, Lancaster, Ludlow, Maidstone, Plymouth, and Willesden; together with the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, formerly Bishop of Shrewsbury. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, is the only signatory involved in the formal LLF discussions, as part of the pastoral advisory group.
The letter advises Dr Cocksworth and his colleagues against any sort of Anglican fudge, urging them to go beyond an evaluation of different perspectives. It calls instead for a “coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves”.