The Listening Process

Reports from the Provinces - The Church in Wales.

The Bishops’ Statement on Homosexuality 2005, recognises a wide range of views held by members of the church on the issue of homosexuality. It accepts each of these as honest and legitimate and establishes the need for a prayerful debate characterised by “humility, generosity of spirit, reflection on Biblical witness, mature thought and careful listening.”

The centrality of Scripture read in the light of reason and tradition is affirmed. The range of views held within the Church in Wales is set out in five bullet points.

  • Some people, reading the Scriptures with integrity, reach the conclusion that the only proper context for sexual activity is marriage between a man and a woman in life-long union. Homosexual practice of any kind is therefore rejected.
  • Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, adopt a more sympathetic understanding of homosexuality, but would not at present wish the Church to sanction homosexual practice.
  • Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that orientation and practice are to be distinguished and that the Church can welcome same sex relationships provided they are celibate.
  • Others again, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that the Church cannot dismiss as intrinsically disordered permanent and committed same-sex relationships; they believe that through their internal mutuality and support, these bring creativity, generosity and love into the lives of those within them.
  • Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude, in the light of a developing understanding of the nature of humanity and sexuality, that the time has arrived for the Church to affirm committed homosexual relationships.

The statement concludes with a commitment “to listening to people whose sexual orientation may be different from our own.”

Up to this point there has been no formal process of listening to the experience of homosexual persons, but many informal conversations have taken place and an open study day was held last year following the production of a study guide and the discussion was frank and honest.

The study guide is an important document with a range of views expressed.

The Primate is leading the church into a positive attempt to listen while honouring one another, particularly building on his experience of such processes within the WCC. He is listening himself and is committed to encouraging informed debate.