The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has spoken of his pain over a debate which rejected proposals to soften the church's stance in Southern Africa on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.
"A word to our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers: I was deeply pained by the outcome of the debate," said Makgoba in a statement Oct. 1.
His comments followed a synod held near Johannesburg Sept. 30 that rejected a proposal to allow bishops to license clergy who identified as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed) and are in a same sex civil union to minister in parishes.
The meeting also rejected a proposal that bishops "provide for prayers of blessing to be offered for those in same sex civil unions" – although not actually marry them under church law, News24 reported.
The motion failed to achieve a simple majority in any House," said Makgoba.
The archbishop said that whenever any church members were in pain, "then I am in pain too."
"The pain on both sides of the debate in synod was palpable and no one celebrated or applauded the outcome," said Makgoba.
Nevertheless he reiterated that bishops still believed that when it came to LGBTI members of the Anglican Church, "you are loved by God and all baptized, believing and faithful persons".
The day after the vote Makgoba issued a lengthy statement explaining the vote, noting the meeting was called the Provincial Synod.
"We call the synod 'Provincial' because we are a Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion – our church Province covers Anglicans in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and on the island of St Helena.
"Of course, it is only in South Africa that the State allows people of the same gender to marry under civil law," said Makgoba.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since its Civil Union Act came into force November 30, 2006.
"When the Church refers to marriage, we mean marriage in Church, by the Church, which our Canons – the laws that govern us – call 'Holy Matrimony.' So usually refer to marriage in the eyes of the State as 'civil unions.' The two are quite distinct from one another."
Makgoba said the Provincial Synod, which is the church's top legislative body, had held a debate on the issue of pastoral care to people of gay and lesbian orientation who are in committed same-sex relationships.
DEBATES ON TWO ISSUES LOST
The debate on the two issues was lost.
"We live in a democracy, our church has strongly advocated democracy, and people on all sides of the debate have to accept the result.
"At the same time, the debate is not over. Without trying to predict its ultimate outcome, or to suggest what that should be, it was notable that a number of opponents of the motion did not reject it out of hand, but suggested instead that opinion in our church was not yet ready for such a move."
Makgoba said, "Nothing that I heard in the last two days takes away from what the bishops have already said to people of LGBTI orientation:
"You are loved by God and all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.
"We recognize that many of you are baptized and confirmed members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of your lives and the ordering of your relationships. We urge you to stick with us to play your full part in the deliberations to come."