CoE Bishops call for blessing of same-sex civil marriages

Bishops reject same-sex church marriage and will remove the requirement that clergy in same-sex relationships must be celibate.

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The Church of England’s bishops have voted to bless same-sex civil marriages, but will not permit same-sex church marriages, the BBC has reported.

On 17 Jan 2023 the bishops met in closed session to prepare their final recommendations on the Living in Love and Faith process, a five-year consultation held by the church on same-sex marriage/blessings. The BBC’s religion editor Aleem Maqbool reported on the BBC TV Ten o’clock news tonight that four bishops had told him church teaching that Holy Matrimony was only between one man and one woman and this will not be put to a vote at synod. They recommended, however, the church adopt blessings for same-sex civil marriages.

The bishops will also ask synod to rescind the policy that clergy in same-sex relationships must be celibate. Archbishop Welby will also offer an apology to gay and lesbian members of the Church of England for their exclusion from the life of the church.

The BBC reported that a bishop in favor of changing church teaching said “substantial progess” had been made, and that today’s deliberations were “not the end of the road.”

A traditionalist bishop was quoted by the BBC as saying: “A conservative bishop said: “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.”

Placing the unity of the church over the mandates of Scripture will not endear the Church of England to the wider Anglican Communion. If adopted by General Synod, these developments will likely result in intensified calls to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury as first among equals within the Anglican Communion.