The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, who has a reputation as one of the most conservative of the evangelicals in the House, is already taking action against gay clergy in his diocese. In the light of the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement he has asked to meet the four clergy in the diocese who are known to be in civil partnerships.
He may, of course, want to meet them to offer pastoral support and affirm their relationships and the love they have for their partners. But set in the context of the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement that seems unlikely.
In my interview for the Radio 4 Sunday programme yesterday I warned that Saturday’s statement may herald a time of persecution against lesbian and gay people in the Church of England. That’s what it already feels like for many supporters of Changing Attitude England and those who are members of the other groups in the LGBTI Anglican Coalition.
We have entered a time of great risk for lesbian and gay clergy in the Church. Are individual bishops really going to conduct a witch hunt against lesbian and gay clergy in civil partnerships?
A campaign of active definiance of the House of Bishops’ Statement is quickly evolving. A wise Archbishop would intervene now before the situation runs out of control.