Bishop poses Question to the Church about its Pastoral and Liturgical Response for its Members who enter Civil Partnerships
Speaking at the Diocesan Synod of Cork, Cloyne and Ross in the Charleville Park Hotel in Charleville, Co. Cork on Saturday 11th June 2011, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Bishop Paul Colton, noted that since the last meeting of the Synod the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 had been commenced.
Bishop Colton asked ‘What now is to be the Church’s response, pastorally and liturgically, in this new Civil Partnership scenario?’
Bishop Colton said:
We know that many gay people have been alienated or marginalised by their churches over the years. If you while away some idle moments on a social forum such as Twitter you will see the hurt, and sometimes the hostility too towards the churches. However, there are many gay people who have not abandoned Church. They are actively involved, in our pews, holding office, strong in Christian faith and, in some cases, still hanging in with the Church as an institution in spite of the immense pain they have suffered in that very community which is meant to articulate the justice of God and the love of Jesus Christ.
In the parochial round, clergy visit the homes of their parishioners, gay and straight, and, as I hope they do in all homes, pastoral support and care, including prayer and blessing, are offered and received. Now the possibility of civil partnership has opened up for same-sex couples. Over time, many of you, their close friends and fellow Christians, will be invited to join them on their special day. Some of you perhaps already have received such invitations. Clergy too will receive invitations to be present with them at this life moment.
The question, one we cannot hope will go away, or one that we would prefer to sidestep by our inertia is this: What now is to be the Church’s response, pastorally and liturgically, in this new Civil Partnership scenario?