This week’s Church Times

In Friday’s (tomorrow’s) edition of Church Times — the news weekly covering the Church of England — there are stories on General Convention, the Porvoo accord and same sex blessings, and an editorial on General Convention’s actions.

Item 1. Editorial: Schism must not be allowed to happen

The Episcopal Church has not really broken the Communion any more than it was already.

The decision exposes the flaw at the heart of attempts to order the Communion on the basis of single issues. There is no less reason to join together at the eucharist, share theological ideas, engage in jointly funded enterprises, and so on, this week than last. A few Episcopalians have said more clearly what they have believed for some time; many still disagree with them. Nothing much has changed.

Item 2.

Before the vote, more than 1000 people crowded into the Pacific Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel to hear the testimony of 51 people, all but ten of whom wanted the Church to move beyond B033. It could have been repealed or re­affirmed, but neither happened. Instead, 13 resolutions relating to B033 were combined into D025, a multi-part resolution “on Commit­ment and Witness to Anglican Communion”, intended to describe the mind of the Church on the issue.

Like B033, it has no canonical force, and the moratorium will technically be broken only if the Episcopal Church ordains another gay bishop. The final wording of the motion was described as “descriptive, not prescriptive”.

Item 3. English bishops say Swedish proposal redefines marriage

The letter from the English Bishops, dated 26 June, notes that Swedish approval of such blessings is already “problematic” for the Church of England, and reiterates the position expressed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference that same-sex sexual relationships should not be blessed, and those in such a relationship should not be ordained.

Describing the new Swedish proposal, as currently understood, to be apparently “a fundamental redefinition of the Christian doctrine of marriage”, FOAG says it is “acutely conscious of the immediate and negative consequences of moves within any of the Porvoo churches to revise Christian teaching and practice in matters of sexuality”. Such changes would have “particular implications for the limitation of the interchangeability of ordained ministry”, and could even “further undermine the fragility of the Anglican Communion”.

FOAG also says that “from a Church of England perspective it is vital for the Church to maintain a critical distance from the state.” It suggests, however, that the alternative, of ceasing entirely to solemnise marriages in church, which a majority of the Swedish bishops may favour, would still indicate a significant difference between the two Churches.

The Local, Sweden’s news in English, carries this report:

The Church of England has condemned a proposal by the Church of Sweden to grant same-sex couples the right to religious wedding ceremonies.

In a sharply worded letter to Swedish archbishop Anders Wejryd, two high ranking bishops from the Church of England call the proposal “problematic”, adding that it risks causing “an impairment of the relationships between the churches”.

The critique comes following March correspondence from Archbishop Wejryd in which he informed his colleagues in England of ongoing discussions within the Lutheran Church of Sweden about allowing gay marriages in Swedish churches.

Following Wejryd’s letter, the governing board of the Church of Sweden proposed that it should continue to perform wedding ceremonies in accordance with new legislation granting same-sex couples in Sweden the same legal marriage status as heterosexuals.

The critique, in addition to expressing concerns about the Church of Sweden’s stance on gay marriage, appears to also be a less-than subtle reference to the recent election of Eva Brunne, an openly gay woman, to be Bishop of Stockholm.

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