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Orthodoxy an option for Scotland: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21, 2011 October 21, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The work of the church is not to guard orthodoxy, but promote diversity, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church declared last week.

Writing in the Scotsman on 13 Oct 2011, Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane criticized the Catholic Church in Scotland’s condemnation of the SNP government’s consultation on gay marriage. The primus argued that discussion of same-sex marriage was a proper subject of government review, and noted the Scottish Episcopal Church was itself rethinking the issue.

Dr. Chillingworth stated that he believed “the church must and should be an unequivocal supporter of marriage and family life.”

“But Jesus did not call the church into being as a citadel of orthodoxy. He was constantly criticised because he spent time with people who didn’t fit the conventional patterns and were deemed unacceptable by others. He told stories about nets and fishing, about lost sheep and banquets where the guests were to be gathered from the highways and byways,” the primus said.

“If there is a mandate for us in the churches, it is to try and build communities of faith which honour the way in which we believe Jesus responded to people in their diversity,” he noted.

Dr. Chillingworth’s musings on the nature of the church came in response to criticism of the Scottish Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage from the Catholic Church.

If the government believes it should “legislate in this way, I believe that it is their right to do so.

“It is clear that there would be an ‘opt-out’ protection for those who cannot accept this. Churches and faith groups would have to decide whether they wished to use or to stand outside the provisions of such legislation.  The suggestion has been made that the Scottish Government does not have a mandate to introduce legislation which is of such fundamental significance for our society.

“The implication is that these are ‘non-negotiable’ areas. If the Scottish Government was proposing to legislate to enshrine in law discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, colour or race, I would publicly oppose their moral right to do so. But that is not the nature of these consultation proposals,” the primus said.

A spokesman for the primus told CEN the Scottish Episcopal Church “is considering its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on same sex marriage.  This will be done through our Faith and Order Board by the end of the consultation period.”

However, they declined to respond to requests for clarification of the primus’ views on orthodoxy.

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