Welsh re-think on gay mar­riage

The Church of England - - NEWS -

THE COALI­TION government’s push to in­tro­duce same-sex mar­riage in Eng­land and Wales ne­ces­si­tates a re­view of the Church in Wales’ think­ing on mar­riage, the Arch­bishop of Wales Dr. Barr y Mor­gan said last week.

In his pres­i­den­tial ad­dress to the 10 – 11 April 2013 meet­ing of the Gov­ern­ing Body of the Church in Wales in Lam­peter, Dr. Mor­gan said the church needed to con­sider the is­sue of same-sex re­la­tion­ships. “There has been a growth in un­der­stand­ing of same sex re­la­tion­ships in wider so­ci­ety in re­cent years and a more com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of hu­man sex­u­al­ity in gen­eral,” he said.

“Within the Church in Wales, as the bish­ops have pointed out, there are a va­ri­ety of views about the ethics of same sex re­la­tion­ships. There is a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the value of any faith­ful com­mit­ted life-long re­la­tion­ship. The new Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury ob­served re­cently that, ‘It would be com­pletely ab­surd to sug­gest that the love ex­pressed in gay re­la­tion­ships was less than the love that there is be­tween straight cou­ples’. The bish­ops have, there­fore, asked the Doc­tri­nal Com­mis­sion to ex­am­ine the whole is­sue of same sex re­la­tion­ships, and once it has pro­duced its report, we will need to have a gen­eral dis­cus­sion, per­haps in groups in the first in­stance, in this Gov­ern­ing Body to map out the way ahead for us as a Church.”

The doc­tri­nal com­mis­sion will also ex­am­ine the Church in Wales’ re­la­tion­ship to the state. The coali­tion government had not con­sulted the Church in Wales when it said it would be banned in law from of­fer­ing same sex mar­riages. The church in Wales should make up its own mind on this is­sue he de­clared, and it must de­cide whether it would keep its quasi-es­tab­lished po­si­tion un­der Welsh law clergy had a duty to solem­nise mar­riages.

"If mar­riage were ever to be­come a de­volved is­sue, I can­not see a de­volved Welsh government al­low­ing a dis­es­tab­lished church to hang on to this ves­tige of es­tab­lish­ment,” he added, but “in any case, we our­selves might want to change the present ar­range­ments."

Dr. Mor­gan also dis­cussed re­vis­it­ing the is­sue of women bish­ops which was turned back by the gov­ern­ing body in 2008 by 3 votes af­ter the bish­ops re­fused to give as­sur­ances or pro­tec­tions to those op­posed to the in­no­va­tion. In 2012 the Bishop’s bench re­leased a dis­cus­sion pa­per stat­ing their unan­i­mous sup­port for the or­di­na­tion of women bish­ops.

The Arch­bishop also spoke to the chal­lenges of the pa­per pre­sented by Lord Har­ries last year on re­or­ga­niz­ing struc­tures of the church. “Churches with or­dained clergy have been tempted to as­sume that all min­istry is vested in an om­ni­com­pe­tent, all-singing, all-danc­ing pro­fes­sional min­is­ter and that the task of min­istry be­longs to him or her and then when he/she is a bit hard pressed, he or she may del­e­gate some of the tasks to other peo­ple but really es­sen­tially it is her/her min­istry. That is to start in the wrong place,” he ar­gued.

The church must use “all the re­sources that we have been given, and the gifts that all of us have, more cre­atively and imag­i­na­tively. It means laity and clergy to­gether, hav­ing a shared vi­sion of the work of the Church,” Dr. Mor­gan said.

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