Looks to me like the #Pilling report group have been reading @petercarrell 's blog!
Who am I, so deep in debt to the Heavenly Bank, to demur?
— Andrew Reid (@spicksandspecks) November 28, 2013
You can find out for yourself how all the key points in the Pilling Report have been anticipated here over the years, including one made in a short post in mid 2008. No, not really.
But you really can read about the Pilling Report for yourself at Thinking Anglicans (where the 18 recommendations are set out) and at Cranmer, who has a slightly worrying sub-headline given ADU's responsibility in writing the report, "a right-veering via media through sexual polarisation." That suggests ADU is a front for the Tea Party!
The report itself is here.
Here are the eighteen recommendations [with editorial emendation for the church of these islands in places], all of which I think especially pertinent to where ACANZP is heading (as best I can tell from the NSA reports lying in front of me of high-level conversations going on in
"The foundation of our report
1. We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained. (Paragraphs 73 –6)
On the next steps for the [ACANZP]:
2. The subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations or a similar process to which [ACANZP] needs to commit itself at national and diocesan level. This should continue to involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. (Paragraphs 55–83, 309–19, 361–4)
3. Consultation on [whatever we decide at GS 2014] should be conducted without undue haste but with a sense of urgency, perhaps over a period of two [better, four??] years. (Paragraphs 83, 364–5)
4. [ACANZP] should address the issue of same sex relationships in close dialogue with the wider Anglican Communion and other Churches, in parallel with its own facilitated conversations and on a similar timescale. (Paragraphs 323–5, 360, 366–8)
On the teaching of the Church and the missiological challenge:
5. Homophobia – that is, hostility to homosexual people – is still as serious a matter as it was and the Church should repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and should stand firmly against it whenever and wherever it is to be found. (Paragraphs 174–92, 320–8)
6. No one should be accused of homophobia solely for articulating traditional Christian teaching on same sex relationships. (Paragraphs 186–91, 327–8)
7. The Church should continue to pay close attention to the continuing, and as yet inconclusive, scientific work on same sex attraction. (Paragraphs 193–219, 329–35)
8. Since Issues in Human Sexuality was published in 1991 attitudes to same sex attraction, both in English society generally and also among Christians in many parts of the world, have changed markedly. In particular, there is a great deal of evidence that, the younger people are, the more accepting of same sex attraction they are likely to be. That should not of itself determine the Church’s teaching. (Paragraphs 39–51, 156–73, 336–49)
9. The Church should continue to listen to the varied views of people within and outside the church, and should encourage a prayerful process of discernment to help determine the relationship of the gospel to the cultures of the times. (Paragraphs 304–7, 309–11)
10. [ACANZP] needs to recognize that the way we have lived out our divisions on same sex relationships creates problems for effective mission and evangelism within our culture, and that such problems are shared by some other Churches and in some other parts of the Anglican Communion. [ACANZP] also needs to recognize that any change to the Church’s stance in one province could have serious consequences for mission in some other provinces of the Communion. (Paragraphs 85–100, 146–7, 325, 346–9)
11. Whilst abiding by the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality, we encourage the Church to continue to engage openly and honestly and to reflect theologically on the circumstances in which we find ourselves to discern the mind of Christ and what the Spirit is saying to the Church now. (Paragraphs 313 –6)
12. Through a period of debate and discernment in relation to the gospel message in our culture, it is right that all, including those with teaching authority in the church, should be able to participate openly and honestly in that process. (Paragraphs 122, 350)
On the Church’s pastoral response:
13. The Church needs to find ways of honouring and affirming those Christians who experience same sex attraction who, conscious of the church’s teaching, have embraced a chaste and single lifestyle, and also those who in good conscience have entered partnerships with a firm intention of life-long fidelity. (Paragraphs 131–5, 328, 386–8)
14. The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people. (Paragraphs 186–92, 320–3)
15. The Church’s present rules impose different disciplines on clergy and laity in relation to sexually active same sex relationships. In the facilitated conversations it will be important to reflect on the extent to which the laity and clergy should continue to observe such different disciplines. (Paragraphs 371–3)
16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant [vestry], should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs 120, 380–3)
17. While the Church abides by its traditional teaching such public services would be of the nature of a pastoral accommodation and so [ACANZP] should not authorize a formal liturgy for use for this purpose. The House of Bishops should consider whether guidance should be issued. (Paragraphs 118, 384–8, 391–3)18. Whether someone is married, single or in a civil partnership should have no bearing on the nature of the assurances sought from them that they intend to order their lives consistently with the teaching of the Church on sexual conduct. Intrusive questioning should be avoided. (Paragraphs 400–14)"
I certainly see above wise words written which have been anticipated here over the years by commenters, if not by myself. To give one instance, Recommendation 10 could have been written by Malcolm who has often commented on precisely the issue at stake in that recommendation.
(1) Peter Ould has a go at the Pilling Report here. He makes a very odd pair of criticisms for someone so versed in Anglican ways. One concerns clergy making up things as they go along. The other concerns the church holding contradictory positions. But these have been features of our life for a long time. Stories of clergy making up a 'pragmatic pastoral' response to an unusual situation are legion (I could tell a few myself but will not bore you). Contradictory positions simply exist, not least on the ordination of women (as sharply felt in my own diocese where we have both a woman bishop and clergy who do not think a woman should be in a position of authority), but we could also mention abortion and remarriage of divorcees.
On sexual relationships and a specific point about gay Anglicans being part of a church which both affirms celibacy/marriage and other relationships, well, hello, we are already in that church. That is, we are a church where teaching on celibacy/marriage occurs (and some if not many faithfully follow that discipline) and other relationships exist (e.g. murmurs are made here in NZ about youth leaders living before marriage with their partners) and seemingly we can do little about that (unless we want to embark on a certain kind of intrusive, moralistic crusade)
I suggest the proper evaluation of the Pilling Report is whether it is properly Anglican, with particular reference in (1) upholding doctrine as received by this church (2) providing a pastoral way forward for those who sincerely and conscientiously demur from the doctrine. On a first reading of the recommendations the report seems to pass that test.
But it would wouldn't it, given its genesis :)
(2) Convictional Anglican with a rather good pic says this is going to be a train wreck for the CofE. But does that oversimplify things? Would another stance (e.g. strictly 'conservative' or strictly 'liberal') not be another kind of train wreck?