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Church of England bishops urged to have honest discussion about gay clergy

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Church of England bishops have been warned they must embark on an honest dialogue about gay clergy and laity if they are to avoid the church reaching “a tipping point where it is too morally discredited to be respected on any issue”.

Before a meeting at which bishops are expected to finalise a review of the church’s position on civil partnerships, the Christian gay rights network Changing Attitude has written to every member of the episcopate urging them to “speak the truth” about the role played by homosexual people in the church.

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“The public stance of the Church of England towards civil partnerships in church, the disastrous submission to the government’s equal marriage consultation, and the culture of the church, which forces so many to hide their sexuality – all these things are doing immense harm to the mission of the church in England,” writes the Rev Colin Coward in a letter sent to bishops last week and published on Thursday.

In response to a government consultation on the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the church made clear its opposition to such a move earlier this year, prompting relief among conservative members but anger among liberal and gay Anglicans.

Coward, a gay man in a civil partnership, adds: “If the church does not want to reach a tipping point where it is too morally discredited to be respected on any issue, it is vital that its senior figures start, this year and next, to speak the truth.”

The appeal comes as a group of bishops chaired by the Right Rev Robert Paterson, bishop of Sodor and Man, prepares to publish its findings on how the church’s position on same-sex relationships should be reviewed in light of changes such as the growing number of clergy in civil partnerships.

As well as stating the church’s belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, a pastoral statement issued in 2005 said clergy should not perform blessings for civil partnerships and were allowed to enter into same-sex civil partnerships providing they were celibate.

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The church announced last year that the time had come for this statement to be reviewed, and the group of bishops is expected to meet in December to conclude the review. Their findings will be followed next year by a more wide-ranging report from a group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, a retired civil servant, on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality.

Coward urged the bishops to be honest with each other during this “critical period”, calling on those meeting in December to publish recommendations which will begin “to transform the place of LGB&T [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people” in the church.

He appealed to them to acknowledge that the official position of the church on gay relationships was not reflected in the pastoral practice of many bishops who support and ordain gay clergy, including those in civil partnerships. He urged those with knowledge of same-sex relationships to come clean about their experiences.

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“We need you to be honest about who you are, what you really believe about the place of LGB&T Anglicans in the church and what you actually do in your dioceses, remembering that your discussion will affect all of you,” he writes in the letter.

A Church of England spokesman said: “There are gay men and women serving in various roles throughout the Church of England. Some will be volunteers, others in training for the priesthood, some as serving priests and others as bishops. We distinguish sexual orientation from sexual conduct where all Christians, whether straight or gay, are encouraged to live their lives in fidelity to biblical principles.”

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Among the issues being considered in the review of the 2005 statement is the hotly debated question of whether clergy in civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate. The dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John – a gay man in a celibate civil partnership – has been twice in line to become a bishop only to see his appointment founder amid outrage from conservatives.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

[Anglican Bath Abbey in England via Shutterstock]

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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

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Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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