On Friday 20 October, the papers were released for the extra General Synod called for 13 to 15 November and focused on Living in Love and Faith (LLF) and within that the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF). They provide much more detail than the brief press release issued after the House of Bishops met on 9 October.
Andrew Goddard now offers an overview of the papers by providing answers to 12 key questions. Read Goddard’s blog on Psephizo.
Goddard argues: “Sadly, much in the Synod papers confirms that the bishops continue to oversee an “omnishambles”. Having first alienated and angered those committed to current doctrine and it being the benchmark for liturgy, new elements within this latest material are now, understandably, receiving a very hostile response from those who have previously supported PLF (even if only as a small step in the right direction). They not only have failed to secure same-sex marriage, but sex outside marriage remains contrary to doctrine, prayers may include a blessing but no vows or exchange of rings or prayers over them, services focussed on same-sex couples will only be permitted if supported by two-thirds of all three Houses of Synod, and it looks increasingly hard to find a legal basis to permit clergy to enter same-sex marriage.
“However, the bishops’ attempt to say doctrine remains unchanged while changing liturgy is finally having to acknowledge it has failed. Now it is being stated that the failure here is not “in any essential matter” and can be justified by the new concept of “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty”. The reality is, however, much more a situation of competing and incompatible near-certainties on deep theological questions.
“The bishops’ disregard for wise well-established procedures for handling contentious and divisive matters within the church also represents a serious and wide-ranging failure of leadership by the Archbishops and the House and is now creating “another fine mess” up to, through, and likely beyond, General Synod.”
A much more detailed analysis, which provide links and sources to the supporting documents, can be found here: Nov Synod papers final.