The Path After Pilling

By Peter Ould

Pilling – What Will Happen

I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal. Whilst the committee will not recommend adapting our services of Holy Matrimony to include same-sex marriages, I am led to understand that it will propose a formal rite that will provide an alternative for those in a formal same-sex union (Civil Partnership or Marriage) on the basis that we cannot presume such a relationship is sexual. Once that happens we will have formally declared same-sex unions to be holy. In the Church of England our liturgy is our doctrine and the moment we have a rite that in any way affirms same-sex relationships then we will have fundamentally changed what we believe.

This means that the Church of England is at a cross-roads. For the first time ever we will call that which is evil holy. We will bless sin. There are no two ways about it – we are at a defining moment for the Christian witness in this country. It is not like other key decisions in the past. On divorce there have always been reasons to validate a separation of two people where adultery or abuse has occurred. On women’s ministry we have always recognised God’s call on women and the Bible has clear examples from Deborah to Phoebe and Priscilla (and not forgetting Mary) of those called to serve, to prophecy, to proclaim the truth. The argument has not been about whether God calls women but in what capacity.

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