Monday, 22 February 2016
To the Laos – To the People of God – Lent 2016
Dear People of God
I am writing to you just as we complete the February meeting of the Synod of Bishops, where we continued to travel together as we wrestled with our episcopal leadership of the Church. When we meet, we do so conscious that our vocation is not simply to serve you, the people of our Church, but to serve God through you — a tiny distinction perhaps, but an important one.
the Synod of Bishops has agreed that we will continue to regard ourselves bound by the broad consensus in the Anglican Communion, expressed by the Lambeth Conference in 1998, which is that we “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions”. Having said that, we did address the questions of whether that decision is immutable, whether it has replaced scripture, and when a Province of the Communion, or a diocese within a Province may deviate from it.
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Statement from the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The bishops again discussed and worked over their draft Pastoral Guidelines in response to Civil Unions within the wider contexts of Marriage and Human Sexuality in readiness for decision at Provincial Synod. These reaffirm our assurance that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. However, they they do not change our current policy, which is that the Province ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’ (Resolution 1:10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998).
The Prayer Book affirms ‘that marriage by divine institution is a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman‘; therefore the draft guidelines affirm for now that ‘partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage… accordingly our clergy are not permitted to bless such unions… nor are they permitted to enter into such unions while they remain in licensed ministry‘.
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