Church of England may begin blessing gay marriages
In an effort to be more open and inclusive toward homosexuals, the Church of England may begin “blessing” gay marriages if a new proposal is accepted.
The proposal was among 18 recommendations put forward by a Church of England-backed committee.
Under the proposal, gay couples would still not be able to marry in a church, but the change would sanction clergy to let gay and lesbian couples celebrate same-sex marriages and civil partnerships in church.
Critics condemned the “blessing” proposal as divisive and contrary to the church’s teaching on sexuality.
Andrea Williams, founder of Christian Concern, which backs traditional marriage, and also a member of the Church of England governing body, the General Synod, said the proposed “blessing” would sow division and acrimony within the Church of England.
“The majority of Christians throughout the world and throughout history are committed to orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality,” she said in a statement.
Acknowledging the issue was divisive, group chairman Joseph Pilling said the church needed to reflect rapid changes in society as senior clergy express fears of a looming crisis, with falling attendance rates and failure to attract young people.
“No member of the clergy, or parish, would be required to offer such services and it could not extend to solemnizing same-sex marriages without major changes to the law.”
The proposal was among 18 recommendations put forward by a working group set up two years ago amid growing tension over the church’s approach to gay worshippers and clergy but could take up to two years of discussions before becoming policy.
The committee that proposed this policy was established two years ago to help the church begin to address the tension over the church’s approach to gay worshippers and clergy. Any recommendations the committee puts forward do not become church policy overnight; it could take up to two years of discussions before becoming official policy.