Bishop tells Synod: 'Elton John was wrong about Jesus'

Published 11 July 2014  |  

Church of England's wedding website continued to offer a welcome to all in the country who can legally get married, even as a "toxic" General Synod in York was told that under no circumstances must it bow to the court of public opinion over same-sex partnerships.

"As long as it's legal, you're welcome to marry in the Church of England whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are christened and regardless of whether you go to church or not. It's your church, and we welcome you!" says YourChurchWedding.Org.

But it remains illegal for same-sex marriages to take place in church and at the question-and-answer session on the first day of the synod, it became clear that the Church is standing by its official doctrine.

The Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, said the House of Bishops had not dropped its opposition to gay marriage. "Public opinion does not change the doctrine of the Church of England." The Dean of Southwark Andrew Nunn responded on Twitter: "But surely we must listen."

The questions on same-sex marriage came immediately after questions on how to retain young people. One questioner asked whether the House of Bishops considered the effect the widely-criticised pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage would have on mission to those under 30.

Bishop Pete said there were no plans to issue further guidance, but where clergy disregard the relevant Canon or view of House, it is the responsibility of their diocesan bishop to decide what action to take.

"The House has no present plans to draw on the services of Sir Elton John as theological adviser," he said.

Bishop Pete was responding to a question on whether, given the pop star's views on Jesus and equal marriage, the House of Bishops would invite him to assist in "shared conversations".

Sir Elton recently said: "If Jesus Christ was alive today I cannot see him as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this [same-sex marriage] could not happen. He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together and that's what the church should be about."

One young Anglican mum from Mancheser, Sally Robinson, tweeted: "Eugh @synod how can #CofE not realise how toxic this is."

Just a few days ago, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, an NHS chaplain, who in April became the first priest to marry his same-sex partner, was refused a licence by a bishop to take up a new post.

Canon Pemberton, a chaplain in Lincolnshire, defied House of Bishops guidance when he married Laurence Cunnington in April.

The Bishop of Lincoln rebuked him but allowed him to retain his licence. However, the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood, refused him a licence when he was offered a new job in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Bishop Inwood said: "In light of the pastoral guidance, and for reasons of consistency, I am unable to issue a licence to Jeremy Pemberton for the post of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Manager, in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust."

Southwell and Nottingham could be the first diocese in a position to take advantage of new legislation to consecrate a woman bishop if the vote goes through on Monday.

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