Bishop of Portsmouth rejects House of Bishops Pastoral Statement on civil partnerships

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BISHOP Christopher [Foster] has responded to the recent statement on civil partnerships issued by the House of Bishops.

He said: “The Archbishops recently issued an apology (below and here) following the publication of a statement on Civil Partnerships in January. Alongside other bishops I apologise for the hurt the original statement caused within the church and wider society, and deeply regret that this has jeopardised trust. This has been a serious failure to express the beauty of Christian inclusiveness as it should be, and I acknowledge my share in responsibility for this as a member of the House of Bishops.

“Among the bishops, as in the Church, there is a variety of different views on whether or not the present official position of the Church of England on sexuality and relationships is right. Regardless of that, the statement was inappropriate and I am sorry for the pain caused.

“Our Christian vision of holiness in the life of each one of us demands respect for every person. I remain committed as your Bishop that we honour one another in what we say and, even more importantly, in what we do. Actions speak more powerfully than any words in witnessing to what we seek to be as God’s people, seeking to live by Kingdom values, and I urge us to continue to try to model that in this diocese in building friendships and relationships which reflect the Christian qualities of faithfulness, integrity and commitment. As frail and fallen human beings we may fall short but that requires of us repentance and renewal, always aspiring to engage with each other in Christian love.

“Looking forward, I long for us to move away from a narrow focus on sexual activity to encourage relationships which embody God’s love for us so that we can, individually and corporately, share the fullness of God’s love with others.”

Statement from the Archbishops, Jan 2020:

We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York