Advisory Group on Human Sexuality

Perhaps I should entitle this post 'Church of England shoots itself in the foot - again!' 

Yesterday I noticed the announcement that the Church of England has appointed a group to advise the House of Bishops on human sexuality. This is part of a process towards a consultation document to be produced by the House of Bishops in 2013. This is intended to propose ways forward following the 'listening process' the church has undertaken since the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution on Human Sexuality.

What I failed to notice yesterday was the composition of the Advisory Group. They are: 

  • Sir Joseph Pilling (former Permanent Secretary Northern Ireland Office)
  • The Rt Revd Michael Perham (Bishop of Gloucester)
  • The Rt Revd Keith Sinclair (Bishop of Birkenhead)
  • The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker (Bishop of Ebbsfleet)
  • The Rt Revd John Stroyan (Bishop of Warwick)
Notice anything about this list? Not even 1 woman, not even a 'token' woman. Maybe that's not possible. Maybe they all had to be bishops, for reasons I don't understand. And of course the Church of England has no women bishops (yet). But if they all had to be bishops, why is the Chairman Sir Joseph Pilling who is not a bishop? 

Is an all-male group suitable to advise on human sexuality without the wisdom of any women?
Just asking.


  1. My only comment is that the male bastion of the Church of England thinks it's impregnable.

  2. Is an all-male group suitable to advise on human sexuality without the wisdom of any women?"

    O f course it is. Ask any man.

  3. It's a nonsense, Nancy, and will just make the Church look even more foolish when it makes future pronouncements on the subject. I'm guessing they plan to take evidence from a range of experts, some of whom may be women, but that just isn't good enough in this day and age. Sigh....

  4. "Is an all-male group suitable to advise on human sexuality without the wisdom of any women?"

    Absolutely. Provided that they don't care if anyone in wider world takes any interest whatsoever in what they say.

    Beyond belief.

  5. Thanks for all your comments. I assume the group will consult a range of experts which might include a woman or two, but it will still be a small all-male group of senior clerics plus 1 senior establishment figure who will write the consultative document. For me it throws into sharp relief the nonsense of having no female bishops.

  6. At this moment in time UK bishops cannot (by definition) by women or openly gay. So, not terribly valid as a group looking at human sexuality. But then, as Jon says, who will be interested in what they have to say? I won't!

  7. Suem, I will be interested in what they have to say because their consultative document will form the basis of discussions that could will inform future policy/teaching of the Church of England with regard to same gender sexual relationships. This is a hugely important issue.

  8. Well, the issue of same gender sexual relationships is hugely important to me to, but I'd bet a pound to a pinch of the queer stuff (no pun intended) that this group won't say anything new or radical or anything that offers us progress or fresh hope to LGBT people. But I shall live in hope! (and die in despair?)


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