As we enter the season of Epiphany we rejoice in the splendour of the light that has dawned upon us in the appearance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet it is a great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West.
The decision by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, just announced, that clergy in Civil Partnerships can be eligible to serve as bishops will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.
The provisions of the UK’s Civil Partnership legislation mimic marriage for same-sex couples and are clearly designed on the assumption that such couples are sexually active. While it is true that the House of Bishops require bishops with Civil Partners to be celibate, this proviso is clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book.
However, the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living. It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture, as reaffirmed for Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10.
The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso. In his teaching about marriage, Jesus reaffirms that marriage is the coming together of a man and a woman in accordance with the pattern of creation itself when he says ‘from the beginning of creation God made them male and female’ (Mark 10:6). For the health and well-being of both church and society we must promote this great God-given gift of marriage without compromise and ambiguity.
The Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya
and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council
Epiphany Sunday 2013
From the Anglican Church of Uganda (via email):
It is very discouraging to hear that the Church of England, which once brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Uganda, has taken such a significant step away from that very gospel that brought life, light, and hope to us.
The recent decision of the House of Bishops to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops. This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion.
When the American Church made this decision in 2003 it tore the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. This decision only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church.
We stand with those in the Church of England who continue to stand for the Biblical and historic faith and practice of the Church.
Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words.
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop, Church Of Uganda