On Gay Ministers, Church of England Looks to Church of Scotland

General Assembly of The Church of Scotland (Andrew O'Brien)
General Assembly of The Church of Scotland (Andrew O’Brien)

Church of England liberals hail Scottish ‘opt-out’ idea as possible breakthrough for divisions over homosexuality

The Church of England is facing renewed pressure to reconcile its divisions over homosexuality after the Church of Scotland agreed plans it hopes will enable openly gay clerics to serve as ministers without a split in the church.

Under plans agreed by the General Assembly, which is meeting in Edinburgh, congregations will be able to invite people in civil partnerships to become their minister without formally changing the Church of Scotland’s traditional teaching on sexuality and marriage.

Instead, those congregations will be able to “opt out” of that aspect of the Church’s teaching.

The Assembly will discuss whether a similar approach could be applied for same-sex marriage as civil partnerships later this week.

South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.

The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”

The Church of England has begun a process of “facilitated conversations” on the issue of sexuality following a call by the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby to find a model of “mutual flourishing” for both sides rather than a vague compromise.

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SOURCE: The Telegraph
John Bingham

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