SA Bishops Accepts Same Sex Couples As Members Of The Church - Sabi Tips


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SA Bishops Accepts Same Sex Couples As Members Of The Church

Anglican bishops from across southern
Africa have resolved that gay and lesbian partners who enter same-sex civil unions under South African law should be welcomed into congregations as full members of the church.

In a pastoral letter issued to Anglicans on Monday, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said a document outlining guidelines on members living in same-sex unions would be sent to the church’s Provincial Synod, its ruling body, which meets later this year.

He added: “I believe that its adoption by
Provincial Synod would be an important first step in signalling to the LGBT community that we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, through our top deliberative and legislative body, see them as welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ.”

Explaining the practical implications of
the guidelines, he said congregations
would not be able to refuse to baptise
children of same-sex couples, nor should either they or their parents be
stigmatised. Quoting from the bishops’
guidelines, he said, “We are of one mind
that gay, lesbian and transgendered
members of our church share in full
membership as baptised members of the Body of Christ. . .”

However, Archbishop Makgoba
acknowledged that southern Africa’s bishops were divided over whether to marry same-sex couples in church, or to allow clergy to enter same-sex civil unions. As a consequence they would continue to be bound by the broad consensus in the Anglican Communion,
which is that the church can neither bless same-sex unions nor permit its clergy to enter them.

He said the differences among the bishops were both over the theology of marriage and a result of realities on the ground in different dioceses.

“For example, most of our dioceses
across Southern Africa are predominantly rural, and for many the urgent priorities of food security, shelter, health care and education crowd out debate on the issue
of human sexuality .

In some rural dioceses, responding to challenges to the Church’s restrictions on polygamous marriages is a much higher pastoral priority.”

Archbishop Makgoba expressed his
determination to avoid splits in the church in Southern Africa over the issue. He said the bishops were agreed that their differences did not constitute a “church- dividing issue.”

He added: “We overcame deep differences over the imposition of
sanctions against apartheid and over the ordination of women, and we can do the same over human sexuality.”
Anglican churches in North America have experienced internal splits over the issue, and leaders of the Communion have taken steps to reduce the role of The Episcopal Church in the
United States in the wider Anglican
Communion as a result of its decision to
approve the marriages of same-sex

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