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Scottish bishops ban gay clergy weddings

The College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church has issued a statement clarifying the church’s position on same-sex marriage

The College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church has issued a statement clarifying the church’s position on same-sex marriage in light of the decision by the Scottish government to permit same-sex marriage effective 31 Dec 2014. The 9 Dec 2014 “Guidance for Clergy and Lay Readers in light of the Marriage and Civil Partnership Scotland (Act) 2014” follows the course taken by the Church of England and forbids clergy to solemnize gay marriages or for clergy and ordinands to contract same-sex marriages. Until such time as the SEC “opts in” to the laws governing same-sex marriages, its clergy are not permitted to solemnize such unions. “If [clergy] conduct a ceremony in such a manner as to lead the parties concerned to believe that they are solemnising a valid marriage they would be committing a criminal offence,” the statement said. The statement further noted that whilst some clergy may wish to bless civil gay partnerships or marriages such blessings would be “informal” and should be “kept separate from the civil ceremony.” As the SEC has no liturgical rites for the blessing of same-sex partnerships, it would “not be appropriate to use SEC marriage liturgies for this purpose.” The statement noted “the Church cannot give official sanction to informal blessings but, without intending to pre-empt the outcome of ongoing discussions within the Church about same-sex marriage, each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blessing of a same-sex marriage or civil partnership in his diocese.”

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