Monday, 17 December 2012

Confused responses all round

What those senior Anglican clerics who, because they are theologically unwilling or unable to mount a critique of 'gay marriage' itself, are now expressing public dismay at the Government's (unilateral?) decision specifically to exclude the Church of England and the Church in Wales from its ill-conceived proposals to introduce same sex marriage, are not being completely open about is that without this 'quadruple lock' the rights of clergy and parishes not to officiate at or host such ceremonies will be non-existent - or at least, in the opinion of most constitutional experts -may be open to successful legal challenge.

I cannot believe that the Archbishop of Wales (who, we have to admit, even in disagreement with him,  hasn't taken a vow of silence on this - unlike his fellow primates in the C of E)  and those spokesmen for the Church of England who have  expressed an opinion, are really saying they wish clergy either to be forced into solemnising gay unions (which many believe simply cannot be marriages in a sacramental sense)  or to be hauled through the courts for refusing, or to be driven to resignation over the issue? Perhaps they have reason to disagree with the Government's lawyers over the legal need for such a ban - if so, they should explain in detail the reasons for their disagreement.

However, if this is truly the only way to protect the established Church of England and the quasi-established Church in Wales from litigation, should not the approach be, even from those in the Church who have come to support same-sex marriage, to call for a pause in this rushed and politically motivated process (undertaken largely it seems for internal Conservative Party reasons known best to the Prime Minister) and demand again, in place of the discredited 'consultation,'  a Royal Commission on Marriage * in order to examine all the legal, social and constitutional issues involved? Even better, of course, would be to call a halt in the madness and recognise the advantages of the social and legal status quo; in 'the real world,' however, it's hard to see how that is now possible, so many political reputations having been unwisely put on the line (which, undoubtedly, is itself part of the strategy.)
If a Commission report were to come out in favour of change our politicians may care to include recommendations for changing the law in party election manifestos, so that people could actually express an opinion about it at the ballot box at the next General Election....

So, why is there such indecent haste in trying to push through far-reaching and clearly divisive social change, many of whose implications for civil liberties and religious freedom will only surface after legislation has come into force? The only convincing answer to that seems to be so that the Prime Minister and his coterie of 'progressive' conservatives won't lose face at fashionable dinner parties - hardly a responsible way of governing, one might think.  But, even now, it's not too late for them to assume the mantle of constitutional responsibility and even emerge from this with their reputations enhanced.

[Rather than a succession of anodyne spokesmen , it would be good to hear from the present and future occupants of Lambeth Palace, given their traditional role of seeking to give spiritual and moral guidance to the nation ... or do they really think this issue is going to go away?]

* Calls previously rejected by the Prime Minister, regardless of the wider constitutional issues, on the rather flimsy evidence of opinion polls indicating support for change.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments will not be published