Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Britain – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 15, 2009

three_lionsThis article from 1995 reminds us of the far-off traditional days when the Church of England had 10 gay bishops and was regarded as tolerant of its gay clergy




From The Independent, 01.02.95

Gay clergy turn up heat on bishops over ban

A list of pro-gay candidates for the next elections to the General Synod in September and October this year will be drawn up by a new pressure group formed by members of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. The founders have consulted veterans of the campaign for women’s ordination for advice on effective techniques.

 The movement’s secretary, the Rev Richard Kirker, said yesterday that lesbian and gay clergy were still being denied posts after ordination on the grounds of their sexuality. 

The House of Bishops’ most recent pronouncement on the subject, in 1991, concluded that homosexual acts were still forbidden for clergymen, and a recent conference of Anglican Evangelicals, addressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, reaffirmed the ban onpractising gay clergy. 

The group’s formation will be officially announced at the July meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod in York. It reflects a new mood of militancy in the movement after the “outing” of 10 bishops at the last General Synod meeting in London lastNovember. On Monday this week the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Timothy Bavin, who was “outed” by militant gays last November, announced his decision to retire to a monastery, but denied that there was any connection. 

The Rev Kirker, a deacon who was himself refused ordination to the priesthood in 1973, said that the immediate consequence of the outing was that a number of bishops who had ignored the movement asked him to talk to them the next day. 

“Those bishops who put pressure on us to get Outrage [militant gays] off their backs have got to understand that we’ve got to have some evidence that gay and lesbian ordinands will be found parishes,” he said. 

Asked whether his new, more aggressive stance might provoke a backlash and destroy the tolerance of gay clergy which is found in many parts of the church, he replied that tolerance had not done homosexual clergy any real favours. 

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