STATEMENT TO THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND BY THE ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH
The fact that the Very Reverend Thomas Gordon, Dean of Leighlin, entered a Civil Partnership on 29th July last has created a new situation for the Church of Ireland. In many parts of the Church, the matter is seen as controversial. In such a situation it is important that great care be taken in anything that may be said.
The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland had planned to devote a significant amount of time in residential consultation on matters to do with same gender relationships in the autumn of 2011. This decision was taken in the light of changes in the membership of the House of Bishops since the bishops last discussed these matters in 2002/03, the introduction of Equality legislation and Civil Partnership legislation in both jurisdictions in Ireland, and the progress on the discussion of these issues within the Anglican Communion which led to the Anglican Covenant which the General Synod agreed to subscribe at the May session 2011. The new situation and reactions to that situation have added urgency to the work that the bishops are taking in hand. I am, therefore, requesting that general discussion of these matters in the Standing Committee should be curtailed to enable the bishops to begin their discussions and suggest a framework for future discussion at representative level.
I wish to reiterate what I have said publicly in these past days, that the Church of Ireland does not regard a civil partnership as matrimony and that there are no proposals for the provision of rites of blessing for same gender relationships. I also wish to say that, as fellow human beings, homosexual people are entitled to be accorded the same respect and dignity as others. Many are “members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of their relationships” (Lambeth 1.10) in exactly the same way as are all other members of the Church of God.