LONDON The evangelical Anglican body, Anglican Mainstream, has asked bishops within the Church of England to halt a move that would allow clergy to enter civil partnerships according to the new Civil Partnerships Act.
Controversy has consumed the Anglican Communion over the past week as the Church of Englands Archbishop Rowan Williams and leading bishops agreed that clergy would be able to enter into homosexual partnerships if they first assured their leading bishops that they would abide strictly by Church teaching that sexual relations should be confined to heterosexual marriage.
The release from the House of Bishops also advised that they should not offer formal services of blessing to couples who had been through a civil partnership ceremony.
Anglican Mainstream, however, has called upon the leading bishops in the Church of England to entirely prohibit its clergy from entering civil partnerships.
In addition, the body also has urged bishops to fully discourage lay members within the Church from entering into these partnerships.
One of the most powerful men in the Anglican Communion, Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola has renounced firmly the direction that the Church of England seems to be taking.
Last week Akinola stated that the Church of England was basically allowing homosexual marriages to take place and warned that it was possible the Church could suffer the same punishment as that given to the American and Canadian wings earlier this year suspension from the governing Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meetings.
In response to this, a large outcry has been heard across the Anglican Communion worldwide, and in particular Akinola has spoken out against the decision by the Church of England to open the way so positively for homosexual clergy in the UK.
He stated, I read with utter dismay the pastoral statement recently issued by the Church of England House of Bishops with regard to the Civil Partnership Act scheduled to come into force on 5 December 2005.
The language of the Civil Partnerships Act makes it plain that what is being proposed is same-sex marriage in everything but name. This is even acknowledged in the statement. I find it incomprehensible therefore that the House of Bishops would not find open participation in such marriages to be repugnant to Holy Scriptures and incompatible with Holy Orders.
Akinola added, The proposal that the bishops will extract a promise from clergy who register that there will be no sexual intimacy in these relationships is the height of hypocrisy.
Anglican Mainstream agreed that the action will blur the distinguishment between a civil partnership and traditional marriage. As the Civil Partnership Acts is closely based on marriage laws, these partnerships will be misunderstood as marriage . The Act is self-contradictory because it prohibits civil partnerships between close relatives, which only makes sense if 'marriage' is in view.
If the church were to decide to follow the state legislation with its inherent self-contradiction, the result will be press headlines such as 'gay clergy to be allowed to marry, it stated. The church cannot blame the media and general public for coming to this obvious conclusion.
In a loud cry, Anglican Mainstream has called on the Church of England to maintain the Christian position derived from the Bible that marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman, and that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage exclusively.
In addition, The Church of England would do better to make specific provision in its own legislation to remedy the injustices to all people in its employ who are de facto next of kin, specifically siblings and near-relatives.
According to VirtueOnline, the Anglican Communion's largest Biblically Orthodox Online News Service, Anglican Mainstream calls upon orthodox Anglicans to urge their bishops not to pursue the path as recently reported of allowing clergy to enter into civil partnerships on condition they remain sexually abstinent. By going down that path and appearing to advocate sexless marriage for gays, the church would be presenting itself to the public mind as inconsistent and foolish.