Church Of England Bishops Oppose Gay Marriage
Church of England bishops oppose gay marriage but propose that civilly married couples may have their relationship blessed in church. Five years of deliberation and discussion on the Church's stance on sexuality culminated in a meeting on Tuesday, when they finalized their proposals.
The General Synod, the Church's parliamentary body, will discuss their proposal next month.
Wednesday, the C of E presented "historic blueprints" describing a possible path ahead after decades of harsh and agonizing conflict over sexuality. This week, bishops approved a plan that will be presented to the C of E's governing body, the General Synod, next month.
However, the church will not alter its current theology, which states that marriage may only occur between a man and a woman. It will be optional for clergy to bless civil weddings, enabling individuals with religious objections to opt out.
Since 2013, marriage between people of the same sex has become permitted in England and Wales. However, the Church maintained its stance even after the statute was revised. The Church of England launched its multi-year consultation process, titled "Living in Love and Faith," in 2017.
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Last year in November, the Bishop of Oxford made history by becoming the highest ranking bishop in the Church of England to endorse a departure from traditional doctrine. He had a small group of allies, but they were in the minority.
Advocates for reform inside the Church are likely to be frustrated by the leadership's unwillingness to seek a vote on legalizing same-sex marriage. BBC News reports that some people have already said they want to petition the synod to reject the bishops' ideas when it meets next month.
Church of England bishops decide not to allow priests to conduct gay marriages
As a result of the bishops' decision, the Church of England is now at conflict with both the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which are Anglican counterparts but allow same-sex marriage.
Although same-sex marriages are not permitted, the Anglican Church in Wales has conducted an authorized liturgy of blessing for homosexual couples. The BBC reports that the Bishops of England would advocate the adoption of "prayers for God's blessing" for homosexual couples in legal weddings.
There will be an end to the practice of requiring clergy to stay celibate if they are in same-sex relationships, as stated in a contentious church document from 1991. BBC News was informed by many bishops that the Church would apologize for the ways in which it has excluded the LGBT+ community.
There was "significant improvement," as one liberal bishop who attended the conference put it. They referred to it as "evolutionary," a term that is very intriguing. As the saying goes, "This is not the last destination."
We're being honest about the fact we're not of one mind in these issues. But we're not going to give up walking together.- A conservative bishop
Charlie Bell, 33, is a priest in south east London, where he and his boyfriend, Piotr Baczyk, 27, reside. When the church finally legalizes homosexual marriage, they'll finally tie the knot. His group, he added, was "very disappointed" that the bishops weren't suggesting a referendum on same-sex weddings.
It leaves same-sex couples in a bit of a limbo and also as second-class citizens.- Charlie Bell, A priest
We're still saying to gay couples that their relationships are less than relationships between people of opposite sexes.- Charlie Bell, A priest
The Church's stance on homosexual marriage, he added, must alter, and the group will keep working to that end.
This isn't over. If the bishops think this will resolve the current situation they are very much mistaken.- Charlie Bell, A priest
The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, said on the Today program on BBC Radio 4 that a homosexual friend of his had passed away before the Church would recognize his civil relationship.
Longtime LGBTQ+ equality activist Jayne Ozanne claimed the "little concession" meant "we are still second-class and discriminated against" in the church. She said that the bishops were just providing "breadcrumbs - the little they can do" rather than officially sanctioned ceremonies codified into canon law and fully recognized.
These proposals to offer commendations and blessings, whilst undoubtedly small movement, continue to treat LGBTQ+ people and their relationships as inferior and second-class. This is not good enough.- The Rev Nigel Pietroni, chair of the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the C of E
Same-sex marriages are recognized by the Episcopal Church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland. Clergy in Wales are allowed to bless civil unions between people of the same sex.