Cape Town - The Anglican bishops will be urged to finalise guidelines on how its leaders should respond to same-sex partnerships of a “faithful commitment”, following a motion tabled on the matter in Cape Town at the weekend.
Leaders of the Cape Town diocese’s meeting in Rondebosch, Cape Town, debated the motion and asked for the bishops to publish the final report on the matter.
At the diocesan synod in 2011, a motion requesting a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment was defeated but a request was made that the bishops refer the matter to the synod bishops for preparation of guidelines to help the church respond to the matter.
While the draft report was being prepared in 2016, a motion was tabled at the provincial synod and was defeated.
“The matter on human sexuality is before the bishops,” Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said.
“We need to apply our minds to it and conclude so we can go back to the Anglicans and tell them what the final report says.”
He said the 31 bishops of the church, from South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and St Helena were scheduled to meet in September and the request for publishing the report on the guidelines would be discussed.
Makgoba said the debate was “most encouraging” as it showed people were starting to deal with the sexuality issue not only on an emotional level but incorporating the levels of spiritually and theology.
Tabling the motion, the dean of St George’s Cathedral, Reverend Michael Weeder said there was a need for the bishops to offer guidelines on finding a way through the issue.
“As Anglicans, we have the incarnation which celebrates that which is perfect and loving, which embraces shortcomings, limitations and frailty - and that has been the strength of the history of our church in southern Africa,” he said.
Weeder said that while the church would not shy away from pronouncing on the racialised identity of society, it still struggled to come to terms with matters of sexuality even though that affected “our daughters and sons, dear friends”.
“We’re talking about how we fail to fully embrace divinity in others. We want to celebrate the presence of those not affirmed sacramentally,” he said.
The motion was supported by seven others who spoke of the church’s need to be inclusive and embracing and to treat the sexuality matter as a matter of justice, respect and trust. Only one member voiced opposition to the motion and the argument was based on “scriptural teaching” .
Reverend Allan Smith said the church should not keep on about the issue and likened it to an attempt “to bless the unblessable”.
In his support for the motion, Reverend Mark Long called on the church to share love “indiscriminately and abundantly”.
Another supporter of the motion, Reverend Keith de Vos, said the church was faced with a matter of justice.
“Hopefully we will not find ourselves having to apologise 350 years later,” he said.
The synod was also addressed by a gay person who spoke of his “pain” at what he was subjected to earlier when “my sins were confessed by somebody”.
“My relationship is personal and private. But I feel frightened, disrespected and I would like to be respected as your fellow brother in Christ,” he told the synod.
According to Bishop Quinton Garth, the matter was a “work in progress” as the draft report was being debated and the provincial synod “has not spoken the final word”.