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Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:30 am on 1st March 2019.

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Photo of The Bishop of Oxford The Bishop of Oxford Bishop 11:30 am, 1st March 2019

I thank the noble Lord for the question and the invitation to respond. During the time of my ministry, the Church of England has grappled with two other issues: the remarriage of divorcees and the admission of women to different orders of Christian ministry. In both cases, it has taken the Church in its processes a very long time to come to judicious conclusions. That is the way we are. Our decision-making processes are naturally set up to be conservative and to take time to implement serious change after careful thought.

To change canon law, there will need to be significant majorities in favour of such change in the General Synod of the Church of England. Therefore, I anticipate that this debate will continue into the lifetime of the next synod, which begins in 2020. The debate this morning has accurately highlighted the diversity of views across the Church and the significantly shifting diversity of view in favour of change—that is a subjective view. One of the things which impedes that change of view in the life of the Church is a fear lest it be seen to be in any way compelled to make up its mind by external forces, even if that is not the intention of the amendment—I recognise it is not, very clearly. However, that external pressure would itself be a rallying call to those opposed to change.