Why no-one wants the Prayers of Love and Faith

Sue Donymous writes: A major problem with the Prayers of Love and Faith package (PLF) that scraped through Synod is that no one actually wants this approach. The only caveat to that ‘no one’ is that—for now—some who want to see much greater change will swallow PLF (and just about stomach it) as a step in the direction they hope for. But that is not happiness with PLF in itself: it is a sensible political approach for those seeking something more, and different. But no one really wants PLF. 

One can argue that widespread unhappiness was always going to happen here, in the movement from the theory stage of LLF to action. However, this particular approach is disliked profoundly by both those who are, by theological conviction and in good conscience, seeking significant change and those who, by theological conviction and in good conscience, believe that such change would be wrong. The old maxim runs that you can make some of the people happy all of the time or all of the people happy some of the time; PLF seems to be a dramatically bad deal, making none of the people happy at all. 

There is a kind of political logic to how we got to PLF, based on what appear to be some decisions made by the House of Bishops (HoB). The HoB seemed to think that while it was good for the whole church to discuss sex, sexuality and gender in theory, when it came to what we might actually do, no one would else should discuss these options with any transparency except the bishops. So, they created a package alone and have then sought Synod’s approval for it. Three principles (among others, no doubt) seem to have been undergirding this: 

  1. That there has to be some change in the direction of inclusivity for same-sex couples, both as a matter of theological conviction for a majority of bishops, and because of their concern about parliament’s response—and the implications of that—if there is no change.
  2. That there cannot appear to be any real change doctrinally: the doctrine of marriage in Canon B30 must remain, mainly because an overt challenge to that will not be accepted in Synod. Any proposals therefore have to be—at least arguably—concordant with it. 
  3. That must be no kind of differentiation within the Church of England on this matter, in contrast to the fact that there was—and is—such differentiation for those opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.

If these three principles are held to, one arrives inexorably at a PLF-like approach. No substantial change is possible (Canon B30 remains), but it has to be presentable as change. A space has to be created where some forms of prayer are offered for same-sex couples, but this cannot be recognised theologically as a blessing of their marriage or civil partnership as such, and cannot practically look like a wedding or wedding blessing. The bishops had to try to create a path that would offer an appearance of welcome and support to same-sex couples, but yet be presentable to traditionalists as concordant with B30. So, what PLF gives is an opportunity for recognising ‘the goods’ in a same-sex relationship. But let us be clear: this is ‘the goods’ in a committed same-sex relationship  as defined by the bishops; it is not a recognition of the nature or status of a relationship in the way it is understood and described by a same-sex married couple themselves.

It has been clear since January how very narrow a path like this would be. Many doubted a discernible (let alone a navigable) via media had been created at all: even the way the path is described to make it acceptable to revisionists makes it unacceptable to traditionalists, and vice-versa. 

The defence of the path’s integrity involved convoluted arguments about both law and theology. So, any prayers in a service “shall be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter” (Canon B5.3). For the Canon to be upheld, one has to maintain that saying PLF prayers for a same-sex married couple in a public worship service does not and will not suggest that marriage can be anything other than the union of a man and a woman. No matter that a married same-sex couple having PLF prayers prayed for them in church will not believe this. It is also impossible to imagine that most of those present, praying for and with this same-sex married couple, will simultaneously be consciously aware that the church teaches that marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex. Taking the psychology of the moment at all seriously in this way makes the path look narrow to the point of non-existence, and that is the reality. 

The incoherence of PLF is seen by recognising this point: that most of those who will use the PLF package will bring to it a meaning that the package itself expressly denies, with that denial being not incidental but vital to the package’s supposed legality. Written on the outside of the PLF tin is that the CofE holds to the Canon B30 position that marriage is only between a man and a woman; however, the married same-sex couples who will use the prayers, and their friends and family, will bring to the occasion a directly contradictory set of beliefs and expectations. Those beliefs and expectations will shape, for them, the meaning that the prayers will have—and the ambiguity in the prayers will let them do that comfortably. (Of course it will: PLF has been crafted so that the prayers can mean one thing to a couple, in their hearts and minds, in their actual use, while the Church can still officially deny that this is what the prayers really mean in the mind of the Church. When this is the only way that a compromise works, is that good?). 

Consider the very practical implications of this: clergy are being told that the use of PLF must not look like a wedding or blessing. This is very clear in the lengthy guidance. Will any attempts to do this succeed or fail? They will either fail in so far as—and to the precise extent which—the meaning clearly brought to the event by the participants contradicts all the official caveats; or, in so far as those attempts succeed, the prayers will then, in direct proportion, fail to give same-sex couples what they are looking for. 

It seems to me clear that it is not respectful to a same-sex couple to offer prayers with such theological, legal, liturgical and psychological sleight of hand. It is also not respectful to those who think Canon B30 is theologically correct, and see PLF as paying lip-service to it only by verbal gymnastics and  legal sophistry while undermining it in practice. Lex orandi, lex credendi: “the law of what is prayed for is the law of what is believed”. While the PLF prayers have been sculpted with excruciating care to be legally defensible against the charge that a same-sex marriage is being blessed through them, the simple psychological reality is that when using them the vast majority of people praying will be praying for the blessing, success and happiness of a same-sex marriage. The intellectual and theological dishonesty being required here all round does us no credit as a Church, remains demeaning to same-sex couples, and is rightly opposed by traditionalists as something clearly—in practice—indicative of a departure from doctrine. 

The first stage of the PLF path creates another problem too: in order to avoid prayers for a couple looking like a wedding, initially the PLF can only be offered within an existing public worship service; standalone services await formal authorisation. However, prayers within a Sunday service are not what the vast majority of LG same-sex couples want, for a number of reasons. Most do not want a public focus, but a personal occasion to which they could invite their loved ones. Some fear disruption and opposition (some, of course, having experience of occasions where the intent has been pastoral support of LG Christians, but events were nevertheless disrupted). There is a recognition also that this is thin gruel: revisionist LG Christians want their own celebrations, not a bolt-on to the Sunday eucharist.

Some LG Christians, sensitively, also do not want prayers for their relationship to be imposed on a whole congregation, some of whom may in conscience not then be comfortable to be present. It is one thing to be a respectful traditionalist member of a church whose minister decides to offer PLF, deciding for oneself not to attend a standalone PLF service; integrity on all sides could then be maintained, with mutual respect. It is quite another for that person to have to decide whether they can attend the regular Sunday service in their own church or not for this reason. Many gay and lesbian Christians do not want that decision forced on brothers and sisters who they love but with whom they respectfully disagree. To have reached a position where these choices will now be forced on people is unacceptable. 

So, this is just about the worst way imaginable to first introduce prayers of welcome and support in church for LG Christians in committed relationships. You really could not make it up. However, the peculiar logic of PLF as it has been pursued has led us to this absurdity. In summary: most revisionist LG couples want a marriage or service of blessing. PLF will not enable that, but will allow its own brand of acknowledging the (episcopally-defined) goods within their relationship, but even—for now—only within a public worship service. And this is not what LG Christian couples want. 

Still, this position may be temporary—or at least temporarily temporary. For the HoB may yet decide to authorise the standalone services for an experimental period under Canon B5A. That might seem to deal with the problems explored in the previous three paragraphs. However, it will create its own new set of difficulties. If the HoB do this, that experiment would then, in due course, have to stop before the HoB then brought the standalone services to Synod under Canon B2 for a vote. This would require a two-thirds majority in all three houses … which would probably fail (on current voting patterns, it would definitely fail). So, we have the prospect of something closer to what revisionist LG Christians couples want being offered experimentally for a short while and then being withdrawn temporarily, and then being refused permanently. The pastoral and reputational calamity in prospect here is obvious. No-one who is sensible or caring wants that potential PLF scene to play out. 

Another thing that nobody wants is the loss of trust in our bishops that PLF is creating. Whether the PLF path will stand up legally, we do not know. We may find out in future, of course, if this is tested. We might be better informed in making our own judgments in the present if the bishops had shared the legal advice they have received with their sisters and brothers. Some bishops have claimed this is not possible; this has convinced very few. Some have claimed that it is not relevant, on the grounds that legal advice changes in relation to the development of the questions put to the lawyers. The latter point is true in itself, but does not in any way justify withholding the iterations of advice accompanying the unfolding narrative; if shared, others – along with the bishops – could then be informed by it. As it stands, most HoB bishops tell us that PLF will be legal, but they will not share their justifications for that belief. That leaves a credibility gap, because, prima facie, there appear to be good reasons for doubting the legality of PLF. 

It is also hugely disappointing: knowledge is power, and for bishops to think this stance on the legal advice is acceptable indicates to many that they are not “paying attention to power” (specifically, their power), which is apparently meant to be important in how we all treat one another as we disagree over LLF. This problem is underlined (and the majority stance is undermined) by 12 bishops making it clear both that they think the legal advice is at best ambiguous and that it should be published. This places clergy and laity in the difficult position where the question is not only whether we can trust our bishops (which is bad enough), but perhaps also which bishops to trust and which not to (which is worse), because these narratives are irreconcilable. No one who cares for the integrity and mission of the Church of England wants this PLF-created erosion of trust in our leadership.

So, even though in taking the PLF path we are creating bitter division, which may yet be disastrous, it is in itself a path that no one likes. No one wants PLF. If we are going to have to face some kind of division or differentiation, let’s at least reconfigure ourselves around the real dividing lines, not around this phoney fabrication designed to prevent us admitting the obvious truth that we disagree, and which cannot last as a settlement. 

In summary: 

Revisionists don’t want PLF. They will take it for now, as prayers in church for the flourishing of a same sex-marriage are already an acknowledgment that the church will now, in practice, recognise the marriage of two people of the same sex. Canon B30 is not officially changed, but it is circumvented. This remains demeaning to LG Christians who believe in same-sex marriage, but lex orandi, lex credendi: once LG couples have been prayed for in church for a while the operational theology of the church will have been changed, and further real change can then be sought. Yes, PLF is totally incoherent theologically, but that instability in itself will mean the church can’t stay here, and more change will come. Recognising this, while many revisionist LG Christians are now just a bit more hurt than before by PLF, revisionists as a whole will accept it as a stepping-stone. But they don’t like PLF in itself, don’t want PLF, and want something other than PLF as soon as possible.

LG Christians who are traditionalist and committed to celibacy don’t want PLF: the package is felt by them to undermine the hard path they have understood to be their calling. 

And no traditionalists want PLF. They see that Canon B30 is simply being circumvented and undermined. The tortuous legal and theological arguments deployed to make the case that to pray for same-sex married couples in church is not indicative of a departure from doctrine are recognised for what they are: a political juggling act to achieve the optics of change while being able to deny – when and as necessary – that anything has really changed. Whatever the official caveats, what will be seen and believed to be happening is that same sex couples’ marriages will be blessed in church. That is the meaning that will be brought to the occasion, and it is what the vast majority of people present will intend, pray, understand and experience. It is what national papers already routinely report that the church has agreed to do. Traditionalists don’t like any of this. They also see everything that revisionists do about PLF clearly being a step, not a destination, and they of course don’t want that. 

Many traditionalists also don’t want PLF because they care deeply for their LG brothers and sisters and see the additional pain this package causes by giving them little to nothing of what they seek, while claiming to make a difference. This point was made by the “The Alliance” group in their letter of Monday 11th December. They argue that it is clear there is no shared path available to revisionists and traditionalists; unity will only be possible by acknowledging irreconcilable difference on the doctrine of marriage and agreeing to journey together overall while allowing each other to take different paths on this matter. They therefore argue for some means of differentiation being worked out, with one reason for this being that “it will enable LGBTQI+ people who hold to the received teaching, as well as those who hold to a progressive view, both to find the sort of welcome, teaching, and pastoral care they are looking for, from churches that are living out similar convictions to their own.”

I would resist legal separation; we need to learn how to walk together even while our paths on this matter must diverge, for the sake of mutual integrity. But I think we must explore the kind of safeguards and support that have enabled us to remain in unity despite our disagreements over the ordination of women. Now, I realise this may come as a shock to some bishops, but many clergy and laity actually think our theological anthropology and related theology of marriage are significantly more important doctrinally than our theology of ordination, including ordination to the episcopacy. So, if we needed ways of preserving separate integrities over ordained ministry and episcopacy, we will need this all the more over marriage. 

We may not yet know how this can best be done. However, it seems clear that the path PLF offers will not help us discover that. For PLF is:

  • incoherent;
  • deliberately dishonest in both directions; and 
  • does not honour the integrity of either traditionalists or revisionists in theory or in practice.

No one wants PLF, except those who want it in order to get something significantly different, or bishops who think the only worse thing than PLF would be admitting that we simply do not agree, and that some form of differentiation is necessary. Well, the truth is, we don’t agree, and some form of differentiation will almost certainly happen, so it would be better for everyone to discuss this sensibly.

So please may we now stop pretending that PLF gives us any kind of place where we can reasonably pitch our tent—even briefly—and do something better and more honest instead? 

Sue Donymous is an ordained minister in the Church of England.

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128 thoughts on “Why no-one wants the Prayers of Love and Faith”

  1. Given holy matrimony is reserved for heterosexual couples and Synod opposed Jayne Ozanne’s proposal to review that but given Synod also wanted some recognition for same sex couples, hence its vote by majority for the prayers. PLF was the only way forward.

    If traditionalists also opposed standalone services for same sex couples, so that only prayers within or after services for same sex couples have been formally approved (with standalone services only on an experimental basis), they can have no complaints if they have to leave services at the point where such prayers are offered.

    • ‘They can have no complaints about wording which depends on its legality on not looking like the celebration of a relationship, even though its very use will in fact look like the celebration of a relationship’.


    • T1

      But PLF doesn’t really recognize same sex couples and lots of priests are being told that the blessings are illegal and must not be used

          • Ian

            My understanding is that Anglican LGBT rights organizations have said that these blessings are nowhere near good enough.

            I suspect the only people who want them are vague centrist bishops who want to get out of awkward questioning by the media or politicians or centrist priests who are struggling to marry the organizational hostility to gay couples with the warmth with which they are held by their congregations.

            The people who are prepared to say boo to the goose say they aren’t good enough and have been very clear on that. I think they were divided on whether to vote for them or not because some were of the view that they were better than nothing.

          • ‘I suspect the only people who want them are vague centrist bishops’ There are very few of these. The bishops pushing the PLF are also ones who want to change the doctrine of marriage.

          • Synod did not vote for Ozanne’s amendment to push to consider allowing full same sex marriage. Synod did however vote for the Prayers and experimental blessings for same sex couples and therefore equally rejected conservative evangelicals attempts to throw out any proposals for prayers or blessings for same sex couples. So far from PLF being only supported by a ‘few centrist bishops’, it is the majority position of both the Bishops and the Synod as law making, legislative and representative body of the C of E.

          • Ian

            If the bishops want to allow gay people to marry then why do they keep voting against it and putting up roadblocks to stop it from happening? Why did Justin Welby tell the LGBT rights organizations that they should be satisfied that inclusion had gone far enough because he’d given some administrative jobs to gay men?

          • Ian

            Ok but he didn’t tell the groups that he sympathized with them, but they didn’t have enough support. He told them they should be satisfied that people like them were allowed administrative jobs in the back offices. That’s what “radical Christian inclusion” means to him

        • No it didn’t, Synod voted by clear majority for PLF and the prayers for same sex couples. Synod also voted by majority for experimental services of blessing for same sex couples

  2. “I would resist legal separation; we need to learn how to walk together even while our paths on this matter must diverge, for the sake of mutual integrity.”

    Why? Why do we need to walk together? I have no interest in walking together with serious sin and deeply mistaken theology.

    Any sort of settlement which looks like the one over female ordination would quickly become absurd, and frankly it’s a bit of a fiction anyway, your ordinary is still the diocesan.

    One issue is that you rapidly increase the number of flying bishops. You’d need a flying bishop for those who disagree with PLF and are complementarion and one for trad catholics. You’d also need one for catholics against women’s ordination but in favour of PLF, and possibly for evos too. You’d then need one for those who agree with womens ordination and don’t want PLF, both catholic and evo flavoured. That’s 6 flying bishops per province, up from 2!

    • Completely agree. There has to be clear separation to avoid an incomprehensible and chaotic fudge. This issue is of first order doctrinal importance. Ordination of women is a subject of disagreement as is paedo baptism, but they are not foundational or a matter of obedience to Christ’s commands to live a holy life.

        • Amongst evangelicals. It is quite common for clergy to either refuse indiscriminate infant baptism, or have serious theological questions about the practice. Again, there are quite a few good Grove booklets on this.

          But I observe once more that you don’t appear to know well a constituency you are happy to criticise.

          • Ian – I’m learning all the time. I thought that infant baptism was one of those issues that was agreed on in the C. of E. – and that any clergy who had a problem with the idea would choose a different denomination.

            It seems that there are lots and lots of issues where, despite clear doctrinal statements of the C. of E., people who disagree with them enter the C. of E. anyway and agitate to get key doctrines changed.

          • Indiscriminate infant baptism (i.e. baptise the children regardless of the church attendance, beliefs, or behaviour of the parents) rather than infant baptism itself?

          • AJ Bell – there is a good discussion of indiscriminate baptism (i.e. baptising people without their prior consent) in The Long Ships by Frans G Bengtsson:


            Much of the book is about the Christianisation of Sweden. After a major celebration, following a day and night of serious drinking and everybody is sleeping, Orm Tostesson has the brilliant idea which he suggests to the priest Father Willibald that now would be a good time to baptise them all – since they weren’t sufficiently compos mentis to refuse. There then follows a serious theological discussion (taking about four pages) of the pros and cons of carrying this through, which popes advocated such a procedure and why the church eventually decided against it.

        • Since forever!

          Colin Buchanan wrote a case for it in the 1970s. (as many were uncomfortable or opposed) Grove Booklet no20 I think… I bought it around 1974/5.

          George Carey was president (?) of the Movement for the reform of infant Baptism (MORIB) but seemed to change his stance when he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It wasn’t unusual to make the press.

          • So are we being asked to say that infant baptism is not a doctrinal issue (*raises a quizzical eyebrow), or that disagreeing with this doctrine and seeking to change it is not a problem for clergy despite their vows and despite it being part of the BCP? It surprises me given how upset some have gotten about clergy and bishops mulling over the doctrine of marriage and suggesting any hint of change is a dishonest repudiation of their vows.

          • AJ

            I think the main difference is that with infant baptism, the conservatives are the revisionists.

            I think theres also the practical problem that the church risks alienating the people they most want to attract – church curious young heterosexual families – if they remove the option to have infants baptized. It would be as disastrous as saying that the church would now only allow couples to marry if both were virgins.

    • ‘we need to learn how to walk together even while our paths on this matter must diverge’

      How can we ‘walk together’ if paths diverge? The metaphor collapses.

      ‘Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?’ (Amos 3.3) – the bible’s response to the Archbishops endless polemic about ‘walking together’, ‘good disagreement’ and the like (which is just a device for the legitimation of heterodoxy).

    • I think the C of E is hindered greatly by its commitment to maps. I would make every bishop a flying bishop and allow individual churches to connect to whichever one they wanted to.

  3. Thank you for such a comprehensive and well-reasoned article. It is also comforting, in an obscure way, to see all my own views and fears acknowledged on a platform which I have such a high regard for.

  4. The coils get ever more entangled, on an unpreventable trajectory, and Screwtape rubs his hands with glee.

    Liberals, just drop this whole thing. It has only ever been obviously preprogrammed for self-strangulation.

  5. Now, I realise this may come as a shock to some bishops, but many clergy and laity actually think our theological anthropology and related theology of marriage are significantly more important doctrinally than our theology of ordination, including ordination to the episcopacy.

    I like this statement very much. It has the kernel of why this is an “essential matter”. What is our theological understanding of the nature of human beings?

    • Is that the same as human nature, David?

      The Holy Bible is the good -God- source for understanding both aspects.

      And, as human beings, we don’t like it, doing what is right in our own eyes. Christopher S, gets it right, above, methinks.

      Even tinker John Bunyon in his book allegory, Holy War, has a deeper understanding than today’s CoE intelligentsia.

      • I think a thorough Theological Anthropology would be quite extensive.

        ‘Human nature’ for instance covers both ‘proper nature’ – which we should be – as well as ‘fallen nature’ – what we are. What is the relationship between our material nature and our non-material nature? Between our being creatures, and the divine? What is our purpose? What is the relation between our individuality and our belonging to groups/communities?

        I suspect these questions and ideas lie at the heart of many of the problems with our Modern (and Post-Modern) world.

    • I agree with this from the liberal point of view. Under pinning the conservative view is a belief that gay orientation is unnatural, negative or even demonic.

      Until the whole CofE accepts that gay people are as human as straight people and no more sinful than straight people and that it is usually not good for gay people to be alone or pretend to be straight, just as its usually not good for straight people to be alone or pretend to be something they are not there will continue to be failings out.

      They can’t agree on what to feed the pet because they don’t agree on whether its a rabbit or a snake or a child pretending to be a dog.

      Ultimately the changing culture makes it harder and harder to accept that gay orientation is unnatural, inhuman or demonic. This has made opposition to gay rights a key indicator of soundness for ultra conservatives, an uncomfortable topic that has to be hidden from the congregation for moderates and a deep frustration for liberals

      • The idea of ‘gay orientation’ depends rather on the further idea that being ‘gay’is the same kind of no choice/no fault situation as being ethnically different or having a different hair colour. Thing is, being say ‘black African’ or ‘ginger-haired’ is not just ‘no choice’ – such things also involve no ‘doing’ anything. Talk of ‘doing’ such ethnic differences would be simply nonsense. Sex in contrast very much involves people DOING things and by pretty necessary implication CHOOSING to do them.

        And when it comes to acts people choose and do, the underlying ‘being’ isn’t as simple as hair colour etc. It’s about urges and desires, and things people do because urges and desires is a very different issue to things like ethnicity which positively CAN’T involve doing/choosing or having ‘urges and desires’ involved in the choice and the doing. And simple fact – a person ‘just having’ urges and desires does not automatically mean that the urges and desires are OK to live/act out. Or if it did mean that, I’m not sure anyone writing here would really want to live in a world where that was true. Would you really be OK with the ‘urges and desires’ of a child rapist – or the urges and desires of any of a vast swathe of non-sexual sinners for that matter? The whole concept of a ‘fallen’ world is precisely that human sin so dislocates things EVEN WITHIN OURSELVES that we have all kinds of undesirable urges and desires which we should seek to resist and that we generally because of that dislocation need God’s help if we are to resist….

  6. I appreciate this thought. It seems to have clearly set out the problems of method, which is fundamentally flawed. A misuse of power and an agenda driven by anxiety to be politically correct whilst being pastorally negligent. The way of Christ is the way of love. This has always seemed to be an attempt to learn how to be nice, which is not the same, but is a British tendency. And is certainly not ‘nice’ in the true sense of the word as in fitting well.

    I am usually impatient with the whole argument, and keep out of it, but I want to appreciate this approach which shows up the flaws in process and method. The sin which grieves God is not about the bedroom I am sure, so much as about the way in which the church lives together in this broken creation.

    What I pray for now is a non anxious and peaceful way forward which starts with the nature of God, in so far as God has been revealed to us, rather than a desire to please politicians. There have been times when the Church of England has offered the prophetic voice in society, yearning for the kingdom of God. This is not yet one of those times, but we hope that it will become so.

    Living and working in an African culture we are constantly exposed to the pain which this hypocrisy is causing across the Anglican communion, whilst also being aware of the suffering within the Church of England.

    • Yes but in many parts of Africa homosexuality is illegal, whereas in England and much of the rest homosexual marriage is legal. Given the Church of England already remarries divorcees, in some cases even when no spousal adultery, the argument it should not even bless homosexual couples in committed partnerships is absurd

      • The current ‘evangelical’ establishment will never question the legitimacy of any heterosexual marriage. Husband & wife with kids is the only thing they really care about.

        If there is any evangelical church that on this differs on this stuff, please let me know. I’d travel 100 miles to worship in a church that had a leg to stand on in its teaching on sexual morality.

        Let God destroy the CofE.

        • Joe, that is a really odd comment. I guess you must be making it from the outside, rather than inside.

          Check out the book on singleness by Kate Wharton, who is a leading evangelical in Synod.

          And look at this fascinating book, which I have promoted here in the past: Why Your Church Needs More Men. It articulates a biblical vision of marriage and singleness together in community.

          And check out my two articles on a biblical theology of sexuality. And the Grove booklet on the theology of singleness.

          And check out the Living Out resources; LO are a constituent organisation of CEEC.

          If you have not come across any of these before, the problem is not with the ‘evangelical establishment’ but with your ignorance of it.

          • I recommend also “Why men hate going to church” by David Murrow. The church in the West has become feminised. How many male bishops would you want to follow to war?

          • Ian

            Is Kate’s book (sorry I haven’t read it) about what evangelical churches are already like or how she thinks they can change to be better at including single people?

          • Anton

            I’m speaking from my experience of spending around a decade as part of a church of England evangelical church as a single adult male. This was a fair while ago now, but I have not noticed any signs of change.

            I think part of the problem is that men tend to be focused on their jobs, or at least that’s a safe topic of conversation, but church’s struggle to assign much value to jobs that aren’t ministry, teaching or healthcare, which are all jobs men are less likely to do.

            There’s a subtle lack of respect/interest in the lives of men outside these careers which I think is a crucial reason men find it harder to engage with church than women do

          • It’s astonishingly shortsighted of the church LGBT lobby not to grasp that the Archbishops are on their side and this is the most they can be given in view of the Church of England’s constitution at this point. Suits me, but shortsighted it is.

          • Welby – On 3rd November 2023 he stated to a group of LGBT Christians in a meeting chaired by David Porter, one of whom reported his words and has not been contradicted, that he was “totally and unequivocally committed to the goal of a radical new Christian inclusion that embraced LBTQIA+ people”:


            Cottrell – see this interview:


          • Anton

            Yeah but he also said that the core had already achieved this inclusion by appointing a few gay men into administrative roles. Clearly he isn’t talking about equal rights for LGBT people, just not active prohibition on hiring gay men for administrative jobs

          • Whereas I think “clearly” he is all for enactment of gay wedding ceremonies in the Church of England but is aware of the depth and strength of opposition.

            So, to decide between us: What more, taking into account the constitution of the Church of England (in particular the majorities required for doctrinal change in each house in synod) and the opposition to it, could he have done?

          • Anton

            He told the LGBT rights groups that he opposed what you claim he supports.

            He’s apparently told Ian via private letter that he supports same sex marriage.

            What we can say for sure is that he publicly opposes LGBT rights and that he has repeatedly been dishonest. I don’t know why he is still in the job, let alone being given a knighthood

    • What I pray for now is a non anxious and peaceful way forward which starts with the nature of God, in so far as God has been revealed to us

      There isn’t one, Sarah. There is a way forward which starts with the nature of God as revealed to us, and this way is to stick to the Holy Bible. But the same book warns us that it is not a peaceful way.

      • @ Anton

        Looks like your assessment of Fiducia Supplicans is shared by many prominent Catholics and bishop conferences. In Gavin Ashenden’s words, it was seen as: “an exercise in smoke and mirrors”.

        A later “clarification” rowed back somewhat on the original text by providing more detail. This stated these “pastoral blessings” are to be spontaneous and last between 10 – 15 seconds, with a simple prayer and a blessing imparted on each of the two persons. An example was given of a divorced and remarried couple on a pilgrimage approaching a priest and asking for God’s help: “Lord, look at these children of yours, grant them health, work, peace and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen”, This is to conclude with the sign of the cross on each of the two persons. Furthermore, this blessing must not take place in a prominent place within a sacred building, or in front of an altar, as this also would create confusion, and none of these blessings may resemble a liturgical rite.

        Even this has been rejected by many cardinals and bishops. In essence, their argument is that blessing a homosexual couple – even the “good” in their relationship – is tantamount to blessing a morally disordered union that represents a near occasion to sin and is a stumbling block to them and to the faithful.

          • Yes, I’ve read that too – some of its content is quite astonishing! It was written for young adults too.

            The alleged pornography and blasphemy aside, one of most troubling section for HI was this:

            Let us remember that God’s grace can coexist with weaknesses and even with sins, when there is a very strong conditioning. In those cases, the person can do things that are objectively sinful, without being guilty, and without losing the grace of God or the experience of his love.

            On one level this is correct, but, of course “strong conditioning” is never defined, nor is the degree of individual agency or moral culpability, nor is anything said on resisting sin or repentance, and how to pastorally guide a person out of such “objective sin”. This proposition was introduced into Amoris Laetitia in 2016 (in a footnote) and Fiducia supplicans seems to be following the same line of thinking.

            All this coming to light now and the degree of episcopal resistance it’s facing, may be a good thing as the Church prepares for her next pope!

          • I find it hard to believe that Pope Francis was unaware of this publication as they were both senior churchmen in Argentina, but if he was unaware then he can sack Fernandez immediately. If not, he condones this filth and I hope a soon-to-be-appointed new Pope sacks him.

        • @ Anton

          HJ doesn’t know if Pope Francis was aware of this book or not. The graphic descriptions of sex and sexual acts, along with its spiritualisation of sexuality, and sexualisation of spirituality – including, it would seem, homosexual acts – is scandalous. In particular the depiction of an account of an erotic encounter with Jesus, watched by Our Lady, which Fernández says is a story recounted to him by a 16-year-old girl.

          A good comment on this was made on ‘The Pillar’ (btw, an excellent and balanced news source on the Catholic Church):

          At 87, Pope Francis is, by any reasonable expectation, into the later years of his pontificate. If his primary concern in naming a DDF prefect was to cement his theological vision, ensuring that it will outlast his own time in office, Fernández may be on course to effect the opposite.

          More than any other pope, Francis has diversified the College of Cardinals, preferring to name prelates from what he calls the “global peripheries.” Ironically though, it is in many of the peripheral regions, especially Africa, that opposition to Fiducia supplicans has been most keenly expressed, along with criticism of Fernández.

          Far from bedding in Francis’ legacy, his increasingly scandal-prone DDF prefect may end up creating a backlash to it. In that event, it becomes a question how long Francis will be willing to keep even a long-time friend and collaborator in office.

  7. The same conclusion can be drawn about the Vatican’s recent document “Fiducia Supplicans”: Traditional Catholics consider it near heretical, progressive Catholics consider it too little, too late and clamor for more, and the vast majority of pew sitters could not care less.
    Rome and Canterbury on the same trajectory …

    • >>the vast majority of pew sitters could not care less>>

      That depends on whether said “pew sitters” are cultural Catholics or Catholics who take their faith more seriously, wouldn’t you say?

    • The cofe blessings are deliberately ambiguous if they are a blessing of the relationship or not

      The RCC is merely saying individual gay people are not to be especially prohibited from receiving a blessing even if they are married

      Although similar, the two are addressing different problems within different churches

  8. I don’t understand the resistance to ‘legal separation.’ Staying together would seem to inevitably lead, either to permanent conflict (where 1 side cannot do or say what it wants), or to incoherence (where the 2 sides are allowed to teach and practice things that are mutually incompatible because they rely on fundamentally different understandings of theology). The unity would be an illusion. Arguably it already is.

      • Not so much the money as the title deeds to the Established church and its concrete representation by a building in every parish. The battle has been so long delayed in the Church of England, compared to other denominations and the Anglican Communion, because the stakes are higher and both sides are frightened of losing.

        I would rather hang on to the Bible and to my salvation, but it has not come to that yet.

        • I think that’s a misreading Anton. The issue that “delays” the battle in the CofE is that the legal situation is very different. In the US there was dispute over who really owned Church assets, buildings etc., so if a congregation chose to split from its diocese, could they take their buildings with them. There question doesn’t arise in the CofE. The diocese holds all the cards. Hence, the discussion isn’t about leaving the CofE per se, but about being in impaired communion with your bishop, and finding was to effectively de facto leave but stay within the CofE de jure. The recent post on Anglican Futures spelt this out, by trying work out an option where the conservatives go as far as they can to split (own bishops, separate finances, separate Synod etc.) but even then the buildings would be owned by the residual CofE and leased back.

          • Shortage of buildings? Despite numerous demolishons(sp?) and disposals I think Scotland could probably supply you with about 400 surplus of those. Many at £1 each, if you’re happy to leave the site vacant for redevelopment. Mostly Gothic Revival c1850, with Old Red Sandstone popular. There are a few of the more square-shaped ones too. I’d particularly appreciate ‘Greek’ Thompson’s Glasgow masterpiece being salvaged.

            Buyer to uplift.

          • Anton

            I would expect in most parishes the battle will be over who gets lumbered with the leaky crumbling, but listed church building with poor heating and no toilets

  9. Thank you for your thoughtful and clear analysis. I am not ordained. I attend a Church of England church and have done for a long time. A few comments:-

    1. “…most of those who will use the PLF package will bring to it a meaning that the package itself expressly denies, with that denial being not incidental but vital to the package’s supposed legality….PLF has been crafted so that the prayers can mean one thing to a couple, in their hearts and minds, in their actual use, while the Church can still officially deny that this is what the prayers really mean in the mind of the Church. When this is the only way that a compromise works, is that good?”

    No, it is not good. What is being foisted upon us is a conjuring trick with words. A sleight of hand. A deception.

    a) To anyone who knows enough to identify the deception being practiced it is something to be ashamed of for the simple reason that it is impossible to reconcile with the integrity Jesus Christ demands. When Bishops behave like this in their work they give a clear message that similar tricksy behaviour is ok. It is not.

    b) To anyone who does not identify the deception the situation is even worse. They have been deceived, as they were intended to be by the Bishops who are meant to be leading them and setting an example.
    This will unravel.

    2. What lies behind the ‘Three principles’ stated? Do they deserve priority status?

    a. ‘concern about parliament’s response—and the implications of that if there is no change’. I think this is referring to a belief that if there is no change in the direction of inclusivity Parliament may dis-establish the Church of England. If that is what is being suggested, surely this concern ought logically to be subordinate to the ‘matter of theological conviction’. If your theological conviction tells you that X is unacceptable it does not become acceptable merely because it enables you to avoid a result you wish to avoid.

    b. “there cannot appear to be any real change doctrinally”. The key word here is ‘appear’. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! ”

    3. It is significant that ‘Sue Donymous’ feared to reveal his/her identity. Fear stalks this subject, fear experienced by Christians of other Christians. This should make us pause and reflect upon how wrong things have gone. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have create a climate of fear between you” doesn’t sound right and is not.

    4. From my limited knowledge of what is happening I observe fear clouding the conversation between people who ‘by theological conviction and in good conscience’ strongly disagree with each other. It is making honest conversation impossible. I don’t blame anyone for being fearful: who wouldn’t be if dealing with others who think its acceptable to resort to the sleight of hand methods used in this painful, drawn out, expensive and soul-sapping process.
    Graham Charkham

    • Equivocation is one word that could be used – between doctrine and practice, lex orandi and lex credendi. Yet the name of the game ought to be increasing transparency and purity or guilelessness.

    • 1a

      …and also makes it harder for anyone not willing to lie to rise in the church hierarchy, which then exacerbates corruption and immorality in the church. And further damages the reputation of the CofE and all Christians amongst the general public.

      By trying to save the reputation of the CofE the bishops are actually making it worse

  10. Quote

    most revisionist LG couples want a marriage or service of blessing

    Yes…but this isn’t enough. Most LGBT people want full equality in the church with non LGBT people, including, but not limited to marriage.

    I’d argue the blessings are worse than no change for LGBT people because at least one diocesan has threatened priests with legal action if they use them. I think this is the first time ever that bishops have threatened legal action against priests who bless LGBT people. I’m happy to be corrected on that.

    Meanwhile there’s no progress on abuse, including conversion therapy, which disproportionately impacts LGBT people, especially minors. That’s all been forgotten about because they’ve created a controversy about nothing to distract us all with

      • Anton

        Freedom is not anarchy. If straight adults are free to do what I consider torture to gay children without their consent then that’s not freedom for the gay child.

        • Odd form of torture that doesn’t touch anybody or deprive them of sleep. Please use words in their proper meaning or you will be misunderstood.

          The LGBT lobby wants to ban conversion therapy for adults. What are your views on that? Then we can discuss children.

          • Anton

            Lots of forms of conversion therapy use pain both physical and emotional.

            There was recently a BBC news article about a guy who was held down and hit over the head with a bible in an attempt to make him attracted to the opposite sex.

            Electrocution used to be common, but now it seems that its easier to justify when its mind games, not physical pain. These mind games can cause life long trauma

          • Anton

            All gay conversion therapy is bad therapy because it seeks to create a state of anxiety rather than cure it.

        • I dont believe you can ‘pray the gay away’ but that doesnt mean that some sort of talking therapy does not help an individual in any way. That is the problem with conversion therapy, how does one define what it actually is? If I was asked by someone to pray they would no longer have gay sexual feelings, I wouldnt do it. Rather I would pray that God would lead them into his vision for their life, and that the Spirit would help them each day. And that would mean avoiding certain sexual behaviours as we are all supposed to do. Does that constitute conversion therapy? Or just prayer?

          As for children, the impression I get is that it is largely adults who start questioning their sexual feelings and seek help of some sort. Rather it is those who facilitate the artificial physical change from male to female or vice-versa who are doing the damage. Instead of wondering what has caused a child to reject their own physical body from a young age, they get the scalpel out.

          • @ PC1

            How about:

            “Lord, look at this child of yours and grant him/her your peace. Through your grace, free him/her from the temptation to sin and everything that contradicts your Gospel and help him/her live according to your revealed will. Amen.”

          • PC1

            Conversion therapy is any attempt to change a persons orientation or gender identity. It would not cover sexual behavior. So if a person felt addicted to masturbation, for example, seeking therapy for that would not be conversion therapy.

            Legitimate therapy is all about reducing anxiety. Conversion therapy is about stirring up anxiety around sex, attraction and gender in the hopes that causing the body a crisis around these areas will cause the persons orientation or gender to change.

            Its bad because it doesn’t work and it often causes real harm. Roughly 50% of it is carried out on minors who cannot legally consent.

          • HJ

            That prayer wouldn’t be conversion therapy because it’s not an attempt to change someone else’s gender or orientation

          • Peter, your model is that a person’s “orientation or gender identity” is immutable. I dispute that and request your evidence.

          • Anton – a person’s gender identity is immutable and is equivalent to their sex. It is male (man) for someone with XY chromosome and female (woman) for someone with XX chromosome. This is immutable – if scientists know how to remove a Y chromosome and replace it with an X chromosome, then I for one am unaware of this. Those responsible for mutilation by chopping off the testicles and john thomas so that a man can then give himself a girl’s name and masquerade as a woman are guilty of sacrilege and headed for an eternity in the eternal fire. Peter is correct to say that gender identity is immutable.

            On orientation – I’m prepared to accept Peter’s word for it that orientation is immutable. My main difficulty with this whole debate is incredulity – being completely unable to figure out why men find other men attractive. I’m reminded of the episode from ‘Hitch Hiker’s guide’ where the computer goes into melt-down, because it can’t understand why humans like dried leaves in boiling water (when Arthur Dent asks for a cup of tea).

          • Of course orientation is far from immutable just as hormone levels are far from immutable, and psychology is also far from immutable between birth and death. And anyway the science tells of myriad examples of mutability.

          • Christopher Shell

            Whether or not sexual orientation is mutable in theory, in practice most adults’ sexual orientation does not change, even if they want it to. There are some instances in which change of sexual orientation does seem to have occurred spontaneously – in both directions – but in males, at any rate, they are definitely the exception, not the rule. The evidence that such change can be deliberately engineered, e.g. through some kind of “therapy”, either secular or religious, is about as good as the efficacy of other fringe practices, like Christian Science healing, spirit healing, pyramid therapy and psychic surgery.

          • William, you are right that male orientation is much less mutable—but even Matthew Parris noted a while ago how, in different circumstances, he can see that he might not have grown up gay.

            Orientation is particularly fluid in the young and amongst women. And it will be more so given the way that social media shapes what people ‘identify’ as before they have fully developed.

          • It is not easy to break an addiction, especially when society condones it.

            It is possible for an alcoholic (for instance…) to go to a therapist and sincerely say he wants to be free of it, yet much of his soul/spirit, of which he is not moment-by-moment aware, actually doesn’t want to be free of it. There is a battle within the self. That is true of all people. And every human is addicted to sin. The Christian, uniquely, is given the power to conquer the self, but this power is of limited use if you don’t comprehend what you are up against. That is even before externalities like Satan’s legions tempting you.

            I suggest that what Freud called the unconscious (1) contains such darkness that it is covered over in order that humans may continue to function without instantly collapsing at the horror of it, and (2) it began at the Fall; Adam and Eve as created, and the Lord Jesus Christ, did not have an unconscious (beyond autonomic nervous functions that govern breathing etc). The fig leaf episode in Genesis 3, whether or not it happened materially, acts as an allegory for this covering-over. It was the world’s first cover-up, and we inherit it today. Quite how we inherit it, is not so clear as Augustine said (supposedly the sin of lust when our parents conceived us), and Romans 5 remains open to differing exegeses today – but inherit it we do, as St Paul bewailed (Romans 7:19-25).

          • Anton

            No my assertion is that conversion therapy doesn’t work and often causes harm.

            Worldwide hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have done gay conversion therapy and I think you’d struggle to find an example of even one person who is now straight because of the therapy.

            Its not that nobody ever changes orientation. Its that there’s no known way to force it to happen and attempting to do so often causes real damage

          • Jock

            Just for clarity I didn’t say a person’s orientation is always immutable and I don’t believe that. I’m saying attempts to force a change on someone’s orientation don’t work

          • Ian

            I hope you can agree that there’s a difference between saying that some people experience some change in their orientation over their lifetime and saying that conversion therapy works

          • I have never said ‘conversion therapy works’ because I have never seen a definition of ‘conversion therapy’. I don’t even know where the term comes from, except as a political weapon used in the culture wars.

          • Peter

            Anybody who wishes to ban Christians merely from fulfilling a spontaneously expressed request to no longer experience sexual attraction to persons of the same sex – which is included in some legal definitions of conversion therapy – forfeits any claim to be a Christian.

          • William, I said sexual orientation was mutable. It is. I.e., it sometimes changes, including gradually.

            Did you think mutable meant that it always changes, in everyone? That would have been absurd.

            As for deliberate engineering, look at all the scenarii: that you ignore: (a) times when a person wants change because they have adopted something that makes them unhappy,
            (b) times when change will be in their family’s best interests,
            (c) the fact that they may have been previously acting out of tune with their own biology, which always raises a question mark.

            PC1, it doesn’t matter what you/I believe, but what the research says.

          • Sexual orientation mutates in everyone, and several times:
            Everyone begins asexual;
            Then they have an unsettled or confused stage;
            Then they settle down.
            Then they may develop an aversion to the other gender, or have hormonal changes (delete as appropriate).

          • Ian

            I do not dispute that some people’s sexual orientation is fluid, that it is more likely to be fluid during adolescence, or that women’s sexual orientation is fluid far more often than men’s is. What I do dispute is the efficacy of deliberate attempts to change it through some kind of “therapy”. The evidence for that is poor, although there are people who have been conned or psychologically bullied into wasting years, sometimes even decades, of their lives chasing that chimera. Some have also blued considerable amounts of money on it which they can ill afford. As the American gay activist Wayne Besen aptly expressed it, “Every day that you waste on the ex-gay myth you will never get back. Every dollar [pound, euro etc.] you throw down the ex-gay drain you will never recover.”

            With regard to the term “conversion therapy”, I think I am right in saying that it was coined by American psychologists around the last decades of the 20th century. It denotes any supposedly therapeutic procedures, whether religious or secular, which aim or purport to change people’s sexual orientation, i.e. their enduring pattern of sexual or romantic attraction to people of the opposite sex, of the same sex, or of both sexes. (It has nothing to do with religious conversion – except in so far as the deceptive claim is made that religious conversion will itself change a person’s sexual orientation.)

            The term has since been stolen by “transgender” activists and misapplied to attempts to help people who have difficulty in accepting their unchangeable natal sex to come to terms with it. The dishonest argument implied by that trick is: “Do you oppose conversion therapy? You do? Well, in that case you’ve got to oppose this, because this is conversion therapy too” – although it isn’t. The Canadian sexologist Dr Ray Blanchard has summed it up well:

            “Trans activists have been trying to outlaw therapy to help gender-dysphoric children accept their anatomic sex by appropriating the term ‘conversion therapy’ to refer to it. It should have been labeled e.g. ‘sex-acceptance therapy’.”

          • No, Mr Shell, I did not think that mutable meant that it always changes in everyone, nor does anything that I have written imply that I did. What I thought and meant was precisely what I wrote. You seem to be engaging once again in your tiresome habit of trying to cloud the issue with ill-founded and irrelevant quibbling.

            Neither the reasons for which you think that a person may justifiably wish to change his or her sexual orientation, nor what you have said about stages through which people pass before their adult sexual orientation is settled, tell us anything whatever about whether attempts to change it through any form of “conversion therapy” are likely to succeed. The evidence that we have indicates that they are not.

            Sexual orientation is about the *sex* of the people to whom one is sexually attracted. (Since *gender* – properly speaking a grammatical classification, as in French *le* jardin, masculine, and *la* maison, feminine – is a term which has been used with a number of different meanings, its use as a synonym for sex is best avoided for the sake of clarity.) If you are suggesting that a homosexual orientation may result from having developed an aversion to the other sex, I would merely say that that is as far-fetched as the suggestion that a heterosexual orientation may result from having developed an aversion to the same sex.

          • Christopher

            Since at least puberty my orientation has been the same. Its the same for my husband. Roughly 95% of people experience no change in their orientation over their lifetime.

          • William

            My thing is that all the things politicians, religious figures and the media are currently saying against trans people they said almost the exact same things against gay people in the 80s and 90s.

            I think there are ostensibly broad areas of agreement on conversion therapy. Most people agree in theory that it should be banned for gay minors, but this doesn’t happen because virtually all of the people who don’t want it banned for trans people or gay adults don’t really want it banned on minors either, they just aren’t prepared to be honest.

            It all goes back to if you believe gay and trans people actually exist and are actually a natural part of human diversity or not. This is the fundamental question really

          • Peter

            Many of the criticisms that are made of the theories and demands peddled by trans activists are entirely valid. You can’t invalidate them by claiming that people said “almost the exact same things against gay people in the 80s and 90s.” In many instances that isn’t even true, but even in those where it is, to argue that, since people were wrong when they said such-and-such about group X, people who say it, or anything like it, about group Y must be wrong too, is a glaring logical fallacy.

            No specifically gay rights exist. When we campaigned for so-called “gay rights” in the 80s and 90s, we were campaigning merely for acknowledgement that ordinary human rights, which are a matter of natural justice, are not a privilege reserved to the heterosexual majority but apply equally to us – in other words, for our right to be treated just like everyone else.

            The “rights” which trans activists are now demanding are of quite a different nature, e.g. for people to be legally recognized and treated as what they are not; for information on official records to be falsified; for single-sex spaces, sports teams, scholarships etc. reserved to women to be open to men who masquerade as women; and even for people who repudiate anti-factual “gender identity” ideology to be discriminated against and punished. Those are “rights” of a kind which no other group has, expects or demands.

          • Hi Peter

            The evidence from you in particular is not of value since you may or may not be representative.

            The evidence from puberty is exactly what I have said all along – the most disturbed and chaotic and emotional/irrational time of life is somehow accorded authority above the other times of life! Should be the other way round, obviously.

            The evidence of 95% comes from where? Which paper speaks of 95% and what are the details? Is this an invented figure or one you have read somewhere? Because it does not at all accord with the findings of Savin-Williams and Ream. They are more like 95% in the other direction. Can’t both be right.

          • Hi William

            First, my point on ‘mutable’ was not that. It was (a) that everyone willy nilly has a few sexual-orientation changes in their lifetime. At minimum two: from asexuality to turmoil to settledness. (And what they change from or to can as well be harmful as beneficial – that is a separate question.)

            And (b) that things which sometimes change and sometimes don’t are called mutable, and can never be called immutable. Yet there is a false presupposition in some quarters of immutability.

            It is hard to know what is meant by ‘conversion therapy’. If someone has major changes they want to make in their life, they have two options – to go it alone or to talk with people too. The second would normally be better, and undeniably amplified their options.

            On sex and gender I agree.

            On aversion to the other sex, developed at a certain time of life, there are 8bn people in the world, and if you say that this has happened to none of those 8bn, you are not even close to being right. You will have seen that I was rehearsing the possible scenarii, and a list of possible scenarii means that some apply to some people, others to others.

  11. This is mere speculation as are much of the comments.
    If legal action has been threatened by a Bishop against use of prayers, that may be an indication that the Bishop, mindful of the legal advice given to the Bishops, is aware that their use is unlawful.
    Speculation on speculation, a symptom of the febrile social media age, that jself -justifies gossip.
    Lets stick to facts that are relevant to the topic.

    • Geoff

      Its been widely reported that at least one bishop wrote to all his clergy telling them not to use the blessings because they were illegal.

      Ian says this same advice was given to synod and thats probably in the public domain too.

      The opinions of the various LGBT rights organizations on this are public domain else I wouldnt know them.

      • Not interested in what is widely reported, but in facts. This is from someone who has had inside knowledge of legal court cases reportef in the press that have been far from merely reporting facts, let alone from sources that have puposes of their own to serve in what is reported and isn’t with editorial bias and emphasis, and how, with comment and opinion that passes off as fact. Balance in reportage of the whole case is rare.
        It is the bane of mainstream journalism, let alone internet sites with their own constituency.

        • Geoff

          As far as I’m concerned its a fact that many priests have been threatened with legal action if they use the blessings and Ian Paul has confirmed this to be the case.

          • So far, yet again, that is mere unevidenced assertion.
            Your comments, Peter, of themselves, without more are evidence of the substantial correctness of title of this article with some exceptions.
            I, for one,would be supportive of any the stance of any Bishop who has made it openly, publically known and without equivocation the legal advice to which they are privvy, and have written to their clergy that the prayers are unlawful and open to litigation.
            As I have more than once on this site mentioned, it would be part of a Bishop’s legal duty of care to do so, besides any pastoral concerns of oversight.
            In that context, it is evidence of the fact any written communication and more important, the contents, words used, that is missing.

          • Peter – c/f Daniel 6 where Daniel got fed to the lions for unauthorised prayers. If these priests believe in what they’re doing, then they won’t be too bothered by the possibility of legal action.

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