Forward in Faith UK has not dropped its opposition to same-sex marriage, the Director of the Anglo-Catholic group tells Anglican Ink. On 2 June 2015 Dr. Colin Podmore said there was no truth in claims that in the forthcoming issue of “New Directions” the organization would announce that it was looking anew at the controversial issue.
Last week a message posted on the Facebook of the gay church pressure group Changing Attitude said FiFUK would shortly announce its support for gay blessings. The post submitted by Keith Rogers stated the editor of New Directions, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Baker, (pictured) had changed his mind about gay blessings and had written an editorial now supporting the innovation.
Bishop Baker could not be reached for comment as he is away on holiday until 9 June 2015.
However last October’s contretemps over the bishop’s announcement that he would remarry after divorcing his wife a woman who also had been divorced and whose first husband, a priest, was still living, led some to accept the veracity of the Changing Attitude Facebook claim. His endorsement of the Pilling Report which urged a change in the church’s teaching on human sexuality also divided traditional Anglo-Catholics.
While Bishop Baker’s domestic arrangements are in conformance to the House of Bishop’s current position on divorce and remarriage, they stand in opposition to the principles enunciated in the 2002 Marriage Statement written by Bishop Baker’s predecessor and the Church of England’s Provincial Episcopal Visitors.
Members of the House of Bishops came to Bishop Baker’s defense on social media. The Rt. Rev. Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden in the Diocese of London, wrote on the Facebook page of the Rev. Peter Ould there were “a lot of people who have it in for my colleague” unfairly, and that it was wrong to pillory Bishop Baker over a rumor.
The Director of Forward in Faith, Dr. Colin Podmore concurred with Bishop Broadbent’s sentiments. He added that claims to know Bishop Baker’s mind on this issue, without speaking to Bishop Baker, should be treated with caution. He noted that Bishop Baker’s support for the Pilling’s Report should not be seen as an endorsement of its recommendations. The report “included a statement that one of the signatories did not endorse one of the recommendations.”
1. The policy-making Council of Forward in Faith has not discussed any proposal that FiF should endorse “same-sex blessings”, and I am not aware of any proposal that it should do so.
2. The Editorial in the forthcoming June edition of New Directions does not touch in any way on the issues of homosexuality, “same-sex blessings” or “equal marriage”.
3. “Articles are published in New Directions because they are thought likely to be of interest to readers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or those of Forward in Faith” – and indeed we regularly include articles by people who are not members of FiF and do not agree with us.
4. There is no article in the forthcoming June edition of New Directions that in any way addresses these issues.
Dr. Podmore observed: “I think the lesson is not to believe everything one reads on the Facebook page of Changing Attitude – if indeed one feels moved to read it at all!”