"....Leading Anglican campaigners have warned that Government plans to exempt the Church from the new legislation will lead to hundreds of homosexual clergy and worshippers marrying in Quaker and Unitarian services and then returning to the Church.In fact, that is not quite what the signatories to the letter seem to be saying - the relevant passages are here:
In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, dozens of clergy, including Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, today urge homosexual Anglicans to follow this course of action.
“Until the Church of England allows us to solemnise same-sex marriages in our churches, as a matter of pastoral expediency we will counsel lesbian and gay members of our congregations to marry in those churches willing to celebrate faithful same-sex relationships,” the letter, which is also signed by scores of lay members of the Church, states.
The 150 signatories warn: “If the bill is enacted in its present form, in 2014 married lesbian and gay Anglicans, lay and ordained, will be worshipping and ministering in parishes of the Church of England.”
The presence of married homosexual couples, including clergy, in the Church will force its leaders to confront the growing debate over sexuality, the letter suggests...." [here]
"...This will raise pastoral and legal questions for the Church. Will married lesbian and gay couples receive the same pastoral care the Church offers heterosexual married couples? Will the Church continue to discriminate against lesbian and gay clergy whether married or in civil partnerships? Will the Church continue to undermine the family relationships of its lesbian and gay members? Parents of gay children long to attend their children’s wedding service in church. Couples starting a family will look forward to the baptism of their children.I can't say I'm that interested in what the signatories seem to be suggesting; in a Church which has, in practice, no doctrinal discipline (apart from the increasing necessity to approve of women's ordination) they will do what they will...
The Church of England has to consider how it will offer pastoral care and a generous welcome to married gay couples and their children. It is in crisis because of its failure to approve women bishops and the insistence that it maintain the right to discriminate against LGBT people by exemptions from equality legislation.
The Church needs to relinquish its exemption from the equal marriage Bill and address the expectation of the majority in every parish that it will continue to offer pastoral care to every citizen, including gay married couples and their children.
Until the Church of England allows clergy to solemnise same-sex marriages in our churches, as a matter of pastoral response those of us who are priests will counsel lesbian and gay members of our congregations to marry in those churches willing to celebrate faithful same-sex relationships..." [read the letter in full here]
What interests me more is whether revisionist luminaries such as Bishop Harries, or any other serving bishop who would be prepared to turn a blind eye to this, having presumably encouraged communicant Anglicans to seek a form of marriage ceremony in non-Trinitarian religious bodies (the Quakers and Unitarians obviously spring to mind - presumably liberal Judaism would be out) would be able to denounce - with any credibility at all - Conservative Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic traditionalists within the provinces of Canterbury and York (or, for that matter, Wales) who, also 'irregularly' went elsewhere (to other Anglican provinces or ecclesial groupings, that is) to seek the episcopal provision and pastoral care denied them by their own provinces' synodical decisions. I can't see they would morally have a leg to stand on. Unless, of course, some people are deemed to be more worthy of a sympathetic 'pastoral response' than others...
Both these options are, of course, a recipe for ecclesial disintegration and mayhem - the very opposite of what is is to be part of the Church - but liberal intolerance and double standards have become such that, in my worst moments, 'throwing all the pieces up in the air and seeing where they land' begins to seem the most appealing, and even orthodox, solution to our problems.