South Africa Disallows Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

( [email protected] ) Jul 13, 2004 09:12 PM EDT

The blessing of same-sex unions in South Africa has been banned by the South African House of Bishops. The ban will be implemented until time has passed for further discussions and studies to take place.

In June of this year, a pastoral letter was written up at a meeting of the Church's House of Bishops and distributed to the clergy. The letter stated that the Church of the Province of South Africa was "committed" to Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998. A reference was also made in the letter to the Primate's call "not to solemnize same-sex marriages but to continue in dialogue on this and related issues."

However, it has become unclear how such a proposal would work, and the bishops said "The blessing of a union or partnership is regarded as the equivalent as solemnizing a marriage. (A blessing would) underline the fact that that which has already been done by God is good. When we bless, we therefore acknowledge through an act of thanksgiving what already exists in God. In this regard we are as yet uncertain as to the application of this understanding to same-sex partnerships.”

The clergy were not given freedom to bless same-sex unions on their own volition, as they held “the bishop's license to minister in the name of Christ's Church and under its authority. Your blessing is therefore not yours to give personally or privately.”

However, many bishops expressed their frustrations of the implications a delay in announcing their viewpoint would create. They believed that the Holy Scripture was “perfectly transparent” and indicated their preference of a speedy final decision being made.