As bishops, we have a pastoral and teaching office, as ‘stewards of the mysteries of God’ who are `called to serve and care for the flock of Christ’. We endorse both the statement issued by the College of Bishops of the Church of England in response to the Pilling Report and the House of Bishops’ Statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage.
We rejoice in the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people within the parts of Christ’s flock that are committed to our care. We wish to underline these words of the statement from the College of Bishops: ‘We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and the need to stand firm against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found. We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society’
We uphold the Christian doctrine of marriage as set out in the liturgy and canons of the Church of England. The Church of England is only ‘part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’: as such, it would have no right to make fundamental changes to a sacrament that belongs to the whole Church.
We encourage our clergy and people to participate in the conversations about human sexuality that will be facilitated, contributing to them on the basis of catholic moral and pastoral theology, as well as of their own experience. We note that the outcome of the conversations is not predetermined.
As bishops of the Society we shall continue to reflect together on these issues, to pray about them, and to listen to the views of our clergy and people.
On behalf of the Council
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
26 March 2014
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