Church of Ireland anti-gay motion tabled for General Synod on Thursday

Resolution 8A – it’s Anti-Gay

  • Legitimises witch-hunts against gay clergy
  • Can be used to exclude gay people from Communion
  • Demeans the relationships of remarried divorcees

At General Synod this week, the Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Down & Dromore are tabling a series of motions on human sexuality. These motions (posted further down) were not produced in time for inclusion in the normal debate of the General Synod, but are being tabled to be heard only if two-thirds of the Synod present and voting allow them to be heard. As lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the Church of Ireland we feel that these motions ought to be kicked into touch and brought back at another time with further, proper consideration.

If you are lesbian, gay or bisexual, a member of the Church of Ireland, and unhappy that some are proposing that the Church of Ireland continues to treat us like second class Christians, please consider adding your name to the letter at 8aNoWay@gmail.com. If you are not able to sign the letter using your name, please consider signing anonymously. We really do understand that for many people, even that is a risky step above the parapet. We hope to have it published ìn all main morning newspapers on both sides of the border. We will need to have your name, address, contact telephone number and ideally e-mail address because the newspapers will quite rightly want to check that we aren’t just making names up.

For those who sign publicly, only their name and diocese will be published. For anonymous signatories, only their diocese and, if they wish, whether they are a clerical or lay member of the Church of Ireland will be published.

People who wish to show their support but aren’t LGB members of the Church of Ireland or who don’t wish to be identified as such can sign our petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/8anoway/ It was important that in a process where LGB voices had been ignored and silenced that we spoke for ourselves. But with the help of our straight friends, we can achieve so much more.

Open letter from LGB Church of Ireland people to members of General Synod

As Church of Ireland members, who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, we were not consulted as the Bishop of Down and Dromore and Archbishop of Dublin drafted the resolutions on sexuality before General Synod this week, which stigmatises any sexual relationship outside opposite-sex marriage as not ‘normative’. Had we been, we would have been clear that writing 655 words about people in same-gender relationships without one good thing to say about us is unacceptable.

By stating that faithfulness within marriage is the only ‘normative’ context for sex, Resolution 8A imposes a condition that people in faithful same-gender relationships cannot comply with. The implication that members of the Church of Ireland in relationships other than marriage are in breach of the Catechism gives legitimacy, for the first time, to excluding lay people in same-gender relationships from Holy Communion.

At the conference on homosexuality in March, some clergy said they refused the Sacrament to people in faithful same-gender relationships. The Bishops have done nothing to challenge such behaviour yet claim the right to lecture us about our relationships with the people we love.

Resolution 8A provides a pretext to launch witch-hunts against gay clergy in liberal Dioceses. This has happened in the Anglican Church in Australia since similar motions were passed by their General Synod in 2004.

Although Resolution 8A has been drafted to say all things to all people, once an official statement of policy is passed, the intentions of its drafters are irrelevant. History is littered with motions and legislation that functioned in ways contrary to the wishes of their drafters.

Nine years ago, our Bishops promised to start listening to us. This year, they see fit to table high-handed motions at General Synod while kicking the long-promised listening process into touch for another year. Most people would find the idea of beginning a consultation process after passing official policies odd, to say the least.

These Resolutions should have been brought through the normal democratic procedures of the Church of Ireland, but were not. They have been sprung upon members of General Synod allowing no time for wider debate in the Church. By doing so, those Bishops disrespect our Church’s democracy. Putting off this debate for a year or two to allow real listening will hardly kill us.

There is a culture of fear in parts of the Church of Ireland, especially for clergy. That is why some of us can only sign this letter anonymously.

Andy Anderson, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Peter Campbell, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Michael Carchrie Campbell, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Jeffrey Dudgeon MBE, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Colin Dunlop, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Alison Finch, lay Church of Ireland member, Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough
David Forde, lay Church of Ireland member, Dioceses of Cashel & Ossory
John Henry, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Gabriel Shijie Kou, Church of Ireland cathedral & parish chorister and lay member of Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Gareth Lee, lay Church of Ireland member, Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe
Gerry Lynch, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor
Darwin Martin, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Raymond Murray, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Brian O’Connor, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Meath & Kildare
Richard O’Leary, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Simon Rea, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Katherine Rowlandson, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Derry and Raphoe
Canon Ian Sherwood OBE, Church of Ireland priest serving in the Diocese of Europe
Andrew Smyth, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Down and Dromore
Stephen Spillane, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Pam Tilson, lay Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor

Anonymous Church of Ireland member, Diocese of Connor (details supplied)
Anonymous Church of Ireland member, Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough (details supplied)

CHURCH OF IRELAND – GENERAL SYNOD 2012

MOTIONS

The following motions will be moved under Standing Order 31(d) after the debate on the report of the Standing Committee (due to take place on the afternoon of Thursday 10 May 2012).

8 A: HUMAN SEXUALITY IN THE CONTEXT OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF
THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
THE BISHOP OF DOWN & DROMORE

Having regard to the present discussions in the Church of Ireland on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, the General Synod affirms that:

• The Church of Ireland, mindful of the Preamble and Declaration, believes and accepts the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ;

• The Church of Ireland continues to uphold its teaching that marriage is part of God’s creation and a holy mystery in which one man and one woman become one flesh, as provided for in Canon 31:

‘The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and life-long, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity’.

The Church of Ireland recognises for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31;

• The Church of Ireland teaches therefore that faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’.

8 B: HUMAN SEXUALITY IN THE CONTEXT OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF
THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
THE BISHOP OF DOWN & DROMORE

Having regard to the present discussions in the Church of Ireland on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, the General Synod affirms that:

The Church of Ireland welcomes all people to be members of the Church. It is acknowledged, however, that members of the Church have at times hurt and wounded people by words and actions, in relation to human sexuality.

Therefore, in order that the Church of Ireland is experienced as a ‘safe place’ and enabled in its reflection, the Church of Ireland affirms:

• A continuing commitment to love our neighbour, and opposition to all unbiblical and uncharitable actions and attitudes in respect of human sexuality from whatever perspective, including bigotry, hurtful words or actions, and demeaning or damaging language;

• A willingness to increase our awareness of the complex issues regarding human sexuality;

• A determination to welcome and to make disciples of all people.

The Church of Ireland is mindful that for all who believe ‘there is no distinction’ and that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:22 – 23) and are in need of God’s grace and mercy. We seek to be a community modelled on God’s love for the world as revealed in Jesus Christ. We wish that all members of the Church, through the teaching of the scriptures, the nourishment of the sacraments, and the prayerful and pastoral support of a Christian community will fulfil their unique contribution to God’s purposes for our world.

8 C: HUMAN SEXUALITY IN THE CONTEXT OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF
THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
THE BISHOP OF DOWN & DROMORE

That the General Synod requests the Standing Committee to progress work on the issue of Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief and also to bring a proposal to General Synod 2013 for the formation of a Select Committee with terms of reference including reporting procedures.

Comments

  1. says

    Surely the implications of this are that any gay person should leave the Church. This Church is making its position quite clear, and enforcing its position (rather than inheriting something open to being changed). To say, secondly, as it does, that it ministers to all etc. and people should behave themselves regarding pleasantries is a lie. The Church of Ireland doesn’t have a right to gay folks as members, and surely people of goodwill should join gay people in getting out and starting their own churches.

    A Church has a right to determine its boundaries. It is clearly homophobic and has determined these boundaries. So do the honest thing and get out.

  2. Richard Ashby says

    If 8a is passed it should be made unenforceable by gltb people openly affirming their sexuality before communion and daring the priests to refuse them communion. This is a scandal and only by creating another scandal can it be combatted.

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