Bishop’s balls-up adds to C of E’s divisions over gay marriage
The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, above, has admitted a voting error that led him to reject a controversial report on sexuality.
Yesterday the General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, voted down a report from Bishops which had broadly rejected the case to relax the Church’s anti-LGBT policies after three years of “conversations” on the issue.
The bishop admitted he hit the wrong button on an electronic voting pad, adding:
Much to my embarrassment, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.
Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the report!
I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.
The report recommended that the bar on same-sex church marriages continue but that a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals should be shown by congregations.
However, the motion was rejected by clergy at the General Synod who voted 100 to 93 against while the House of Bishops accepted it by a vote of 43-1.
Sources said they believed the recommendation had been rejected by the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.
Andrea Williams, from the conservative Christian Concern, said the report had tried:
To straddle positions that cannot be reconciled.
This shouldn’t be read as a victory for the LGBT activists within the Church. The reason why this happened was because there was no clarity in which direction the church will go.
Cocksworth said he is “disappointed” that the report had been rejected by clergy, adding:
I believed that the report was – as the Archbishop of Canterbury described it in his very good speech – a valuable ‘roadmap’ by which the Bishops could help the Church to attend to its multiple responsibilities in these matters.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, promised to rethink the report, saying Wednesday’s vote was:
Not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said.
LGBT Christians welcomed the rejection of the report, which means the Bishops will have to rethink proposals on the issue.
Singer and LGBT campaigner Vicky Beeching, who had been among those calling for reform, tweeted:
A happy day for all those wanting greater LGBT+ inclusion in the Church of England. What happens next? The Bishops will have to create a new Report. Hopefully, one that’s more LGBT-inclusive in tone and practice.
These are the small, incremental steps by which change comes to the Church of England. Nothing radical happens overnight. Takes patience.
Hat tip: Robert Stovold