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Pope Francis Makes First Comments on Marriage, Avoids 'Man and Woman' Definition

Pope Francis met with same-sex marriage opponent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Friday and discussed  promoting family values "based on marriage" but avoided the divisive language that his predecessors have used, the AP notes:

FrancisIn his remarks to Welby, Francis said he hoped they could collaborate in promoting the sacredness of life "and the stability of families founded on marriage." He noted that Welby had recently spoken out on the issue, a reference to his House of Lords testimony.

Significantly, though, Francis didn't say that marriage should be based on a union between a man and woman, which is how Benedict XVI and John Paul II routinely defined marriage.

Vatican officials said it was a diplomatic attempt to make his point without making a provocative pronouncement. Francis has steered clear of the gay marriage debate as it has recently roiled France and Britain, and in general has refrained from making headline-grabbing comments on hot-button current events.

Did the gay lobby direct him to go easy?


In New Report, Church of England Recommends Blessings for Gay Couples in Civil Partnerships

A new report released yesterday from the Church of England recommended gay couples in civil partnerships be able to receive blessings, the Telegraph reports:

CocksworthThe senior bishop who drafted the missive to priests insisted that it did not amount to a policy u-turn and that an official ban on formal "blessings" for civil partnerships remained in place. But he said it was clear there was a need for committed same-sex couples to be given recognition and “compassionate attention” from the Church, including special prayers.

The paper adds:

The report by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission, chaired by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, a leading traditionalist, insisted that marriage should remain between a man and a woman and said that gay relationships fell short of God’s “ideal”.

But it also condemned “censorious judgment” and urged priests not to treat the issue of recognising civil partnerships as “simply closed”, urging them to approach the question on a case-by-case basis.

“In pastoral responses a degree of flexibility may be called for in finding ways to express the Church’s teaching practically,” it said.


Gay Bishop Gene Robinson Prepares For Retirement

RobinsonAfter 27 years with the Episcopal Dioscese in New Hampshire, openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson is set to officially retire on January 5th, bringing to the end a career that helped break homophobic barriers within the Anglican church here in the States.

And as he prepares himself for the next step in his life, Robinson says he's in awe of the rapid progress his religion has made in the nine years since he first became bishop.

"I'd been given this really remarkable opportunity and it would be selfish of me not to be the best steward of that opportunity," he told the Associated Press.

"We went from my consecration, which set off this international controversy, to nine years later seeing gay, lesbian and transgender congregants welcome at all levels of the church, including bishop."

The AP also reminds readers of one of Robinson's bravest acts: standing up against the international Anglican Communion for not inviting him to their once-a-decade Lambeth Conference in 2008:

He was publicly shunned by church elders, targeted with death threats and says he struggled to strike a balance between being the "good bishop" and the "gay bishop." In the end, he says, they became one and the same.

He is a self-described "off-the-end-of-the-scale extrovert" who bounds across stages and television studios, whether promoting causes or his new book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage.

Robinson said it pained him deeply to be excluded in 2008 from [the Lambeth] gathering... He said it was the first time since 1867 that a bishop had not been invited.

He traveled to England despite the snub to make his presence known and minister to anyone who wanted his counsel.

As for his relationship to New Hampshire, where he's lived since the mid-70s, Robinson said, "New Hampshire was the one place where I wasn't the gay bishop. I'm just the bishop. That's been terrific and kind of lifesaving in way."


Britain Plans to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage with Rules That Make It Illegal for Anglican Church to Marry Gay Couples

Same-sex marriage will be legal next year in England and Wales, according to a plan put forth by David Cameron's administration, but the Anglican Church will be forbidden to marry same-sex couples:

MillerMinister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said in the Dec. 11 release that the legislation is designed to create “watertight protections for religious organizations” that do not want to conduct same-sex marriages, but will allow them to “opt in” if they so choose. However, the legislation will make it illegal for the two Anglican churches to opt in.

Here's the government's press release:

Following a Government consultation, legislation allowing same-sex marriage will be brought forward next year. The proposals are designed to create watertight protections for religious organisations that do not want to conduct same-sex marriages, but will allow them to ‘opt in’ if they so choose.

The historic move will mean that for the first time:

same-sex couples will be able to get married in civil ceremonies; 

religious organisations who chose to ‘opt in’ will be able to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples; and

a ‘quadruple lock’ of measures in domestic legislation would protect religious freedom, putting beyond doubt the possibility of successful challenge through domestic or European courts.

The Government reiterated today its absolute commitment that no religious organisation, or individual minister of religion, would be forced to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.   European law already puts protection for religious freedom beyond doubt (under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights) but the Government intends to go even further and put in place a ‘quadruple lock’ in domestic law.

The legal locks, which will be on the face of any primary legislation, are:

no religious organisation, or individual minister, could be compelled to marry same-sex couples (or to permit this to happen on their premises);

it will be unlawful for religious organisations, or their ministers, to marry same-sex couples unless the organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to do so (and that would mean the religious organisation itself opting in, the presiding minister having consented and  the premises in which the marriage is to be conducted having been registered);

the Equality Act 2010 would be amended to ensure that no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations or individual minister for refusing to marry a same-sex couple (or allowing their premises to be used for this purpose); and

the bill will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples, or to opt-in to do so.  Canon law – which bans the marriage of same-sex couples – will continue to apply.  That means that it would require a change in both primary and Canon law before Church of England and Church in Wales would be able to opt in to conduct same - sex marriages.

The plans are making both sides unhappy, the NYT reports:

The proposed British compromise looked unlikely to quell opposition within Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party from those who reject the concept of same-sex marriage on religious, social or moral grounds.

The right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party has threatened to exploit divisions which it said threatened to rip apart the Conservatives’ traditional rural base.

“We feel the prime minister’s proposals will present an affront to millions of people in this country for whom this will be the final straw,” Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, told The Guardian.


The Archbishop Of Canterbury On Church, State, Marriage, And More: VIDEO

5385e__62021555_hi009150430In what was probably his final major interview before resigning as Archbishop of Canterbury, the always thoughtful Rowan Williams continued to baffle liberals, conservatives, Christians, and secularists alike in a far-randing discussion with The Daily Telegraph. 

On the question of marriage equality in Britain, which Williams's Anglical Communion has opposed, the self-described "hairy lefty" maintains a position that has always frustrated marriage's opponents and supporters more or less equally. The church cannot perform same-sex weddings, says Williams, but still:

[The church] has been too – he says “lily mouthed” before correcting himself: “We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.”

To those who fear the constitutional consequences, he says legalising gay marriage would not of itself trigger disestablishment. “We’ve been assured that there will be no pressure on the Church to perform marriages, but of course as things stand, every citizen has the right to be married in Church. That’s alright, so long as the State’s definition of marriage and the Church’s definition are the same. If the State’s definition shifts … then we have a tangle.”

Hear more from the interview AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "The Archbishop Of Canterbury On Church, State, Marriage, And More: VIDEO" »


God is for Gay Marriage, Says Anglican Minister: VIDEO

Johns

The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, who is openly gay, celibate, and entered a civil partnership in 2006, withdrew his bishop candidacy in 2003 to avoid creating a rift between conservative and liberal factions within the Church of England and was instead appointed Dean of St Albans.

He is also an advocate of marriage equality and speaks out in a new video for the UK's Out4Marriage campaign.

Says Johns: "If you are gay, please don't judge God by the Church. The official Church doesn't speak with integrity on this issue, and so frankly doesn't deserve to be listened to. If you are gay then please understand that God made you as you are and loves you as you are. And if you invite him into your relationship then of course he will bless you and sustain your love just as much has he blesses and sustains any other marriage. I know that's true from my own experience and that's why I'm Out4Marriage. Because I’m sure God is too."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "God is for Gay Marriage, Says Anglican Minister: VIDEO" »


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