The Irish Mail on Sunday

Church of Ireland yet to adopt off icial stance on same-sex partnershi­ps

- By Michael O’Farrell

SAME-SEX civil partnershi­p within the Church of Ireland remains a contentiou­s issue and the Church has yet to adopt an official position.

A process of listening and discussion has been under way since a 2012 Synod of Bishops decided to appoint a committee to consider matters of human sexuality.

It followed the first same-sex civil partnershi­p of a Church of Ireland clergyman, Portadown native Reverend Tom Gordon, who held a registry office ceremony in 2011 with his partner of 20 years.

As Dean of Leighlin Cathedral, he said his decision was ‘warmly welcomed’ by his congregati­on in Carlow.

The Committee released a report in January – entitled a Guide to the

Conversati­on on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief – which outlined the spectrum of views within the Church and called for more time to formulate an official policy.

In the interim civil partnershi­ps – as a legal civil right – are available to Church of Ireland clergy but they are not formally considered marriages by the Church and therefore same-sex partners are expected to remain celibate.

In the case of the recent marriage referendum the Church of Ireland avoided taking a side – asking members to vote with their conscience.

Same-sex relationsh­ips have been a source of controvers­y for the Church of Ireland and the worldwide Anglican community.

A major rift occurred in 2003 after openly gay Canon Gene Robinson was made bishop of a New Hampshire diocese of the Episcopal Church, the religion’s US branch. Conservati­ve factions of the faith were vocally opposed while more liberal church members applauded the move. In January, the wider Anglican community also decided to restrict the Episcopal branch for allowing samesex marriage.

The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Dr Richard Clarke, said: ‘My own view is that I believe in equality absolutely and completely and I don’t believe that God is homophobic. It’s a difficult one to call.

‘I would hope that we’ll work at ways in which we might find some form of pastoral accommodat­ion that would be true to the scriptures and to our understand­ing that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and is equally loved by him and must be equally loved by us.’

 ??  ?? First: Church of Ireland clergyman Rev Tom Gordon
First: Church of Ireland clergyman Rev Tom Gordon

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