Church of England Synod Passes Compromise Resolution on Homosexuality

The Church of England's General Synod has passed a compromise resolution on homosexuality after a lengthy debate on a high profile private members' motion asking Synod to accept homosexuals at every level of the Church.

|PIC1|The motion put forward by the Rev Mary Gilbert of the Lichfield Diocese asked Synod to "respect the patterns of holy living which lesbians and gay Christians aspire" and "welcome and affirm lesbian and gay Christians, lay and ordained, valuing their contribution at every level of the Church".

Some Synod members were wary of debating the motion so soon after the difficult five-day meeting in Tanzania between the Primates of the Anglican Communion which concluded with a communiqué to the Episcopal Church of the USA asking it to clarify its position on homosexuality by September 30.

Synod members in support of Gilbert's motion called on the Church of England to create a "safe space" for dialogue in order to better listen to the experience of homosexual Christians.

The Rev Angus MacLeay of Sevenoaks called for greater compassion towards gay and lesbian Church members but also for greater humility to "sit under God's Word", saying that "sinful behaviour, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot be affirmed".

After a two hour debate, Gilbert's motion was amended almost in its entirety after Synod carried a middle ground amendment from the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Michael Perham, which commended "continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion".

Bishop Perham told Synod Wednesday morning he hoped that his amendment would make Rev Gilbert's motion a "positive statement" around which all members of the Church of England could gather.

Synod also carried a further amendment from the openly gay Mr John Ward of London which welcomed "the opportunities offered by these Lambeth Resolutions, including for the Church of England to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality".

Mr Ward's amendment also called for Synod to "acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church".

The Archbishop of Canterbury was among the majority of Synod members who supported the amendments from the Bishop of Gloucester and Mr Ward.

On Wednesday afternoon, Synod will debate another high profile private member's motion on civil partnerships put forward by Rev Paul Perkin of Southwark.

The motion says that the Civil Partnership Act has undermined the distinctiveness of marriage while the House of Bishops' Pastoral Statement on civil partnerships has produced a "recipe for confusion" by "not stating clearly that civil partnerships entered into under the CP Act would be inconsistent with Christian teaching".