because of the nature or context of the [office], the requirement is applied so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.
The C of E itself, however, concentrates on whether anyone is doing nookie or not outside of marriage. So there is no restriction on a bishop being in a Civil Partnership as such. However, some people then believe things about the Civil Partnership even if a bishop in one said no nookie is taking place. Perhaps in his diocesan magazine, he and 'Fred' can declare that they are not playing with each other under the bedsheets.
26. It is clearly the case that a significant number of Anglicans, on grounds of strongly held religious conviction believe that a Christian leader should not enter into a civil partnership, even if celibate, because it involves forming an exclusive, lifelong bond with someone of the same sex, creates family ties and is generally viewed in wider society as akin to same-sex marriage. It is equally clear that many other Anglicans believe that it is appropriate that clergy who are gay by orientation enter into civil partnerships, even though the discipline of the church requires them to remain sexually abstinent.
It is this 'division of opinion' that means a gay man in a Civil Partnership is unlikely ever to become a bishop! This of course is exactly how the Anglican Covenant will operate - the division of opinion serves the more conservative outcome, and indeed providing the Archbishop of Canterbury as a regulative instrument to this Covenant will mean the Church of England in particular will be duty bound to maintain the most conservative of outcomes.
• where someone is in a civil partnership and/or is known to have been in a same-sex relationship, even though now celibate, it is for the CNC in the case of diocesan appointments and for the diocesan bishop, in consultation with the relevant archbishop, in relation to suffragan appointments, to come to a view whether the person concerned can act as a focus for unity because of these matters.
The answer surely is always going to be "no", because there are always enough people to make a fuss. It is why, when a diocese might suggest a gay man as a bishop, Archbishops might make some people cry or change their vote during a visit to the urinals or leak matters and hold an enquiry where the findings themselves are held in secret.
There are few objective measures in this: it is just opinion at the time (that's like the Covenant too). But one matter that might be made almost objective is what the person concerned states. Never mind what he thinks, but what does he state:
29. Relevant factors which can properly be taken into account include:
• whether the candidate had always complied with the Church’s teachings on same-sex sexual activity;...
• whether he was in a continuing civil partnership with a person with whom he had had an earlier same-sex sexual relationship;
• whether he had expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity;...
In other words, whilst the diocesan rag might state that the bishop was having no nookie, he would also have to say that if he used to have nookie that it was wrong and indeed no one should have nookie outside of heterosexual marriage. The fact that he used to offer some of his flesh to Fred for a bit of bonding was, he now realises, mistaken and should Fred approach him he will slap his hand. Meanwhile, Bishop Jim next door says nothing about when he ran through a string of female relationships before he hitched up with Jane.
So he says - but as we know with this Archbishop of Canterbury, there are things you state publically and things you might think privately.
Put simply, the Church of England on this matter is a laughing stock. Reform says the Civil Partnership compromises a bishop. It does, given the silly rules to begin with.
The only relevant opinion surely about lifestyle is that someone is faithful to someone else. The rest - the focus on the body bits - is irrelevant. Marriage is not some magical act. What happens before it, even after it with separation, is about faithfulness offered, taken, reciprocated and observed regarding the other person. To allow a Civil Partnership should be enough. Indeed, marriage and partnership should be available to all, so that orientations can enjoy stronger and weaker forms of partnering for equal civil benefits. The Church of England ought to be capable of showing its discrimination with more clarity.