Like many other church assemblies around this time, the Church of England General Synod in July 2013 faces several controversial and challenging issues. As Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recognised, both openness and boldness are needed.
Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.
Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, has made clear his support for allowing same-sex couples to marry. Officially the Church of England is opposed to equal marriage but many members are in favour. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, covering England and Wales, is to be debated by the House of Lords.
Justin Welby is enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury today, in a service the scale, pomp and circumstance of which considerably exceeds the true cash worth of the Church of England at the moment, many may feel.
I have often been critical of the Church of England’s leadership for being slow to speak out on issues of economic justice. I’m therefore delighted that 43 CofE bishops have criticised the coalition for cutting benefits (or technically, for raising them by one percent, which is below the rate of inflation and therefore a cut in all but name).