The Church of England on Wednesday outlined proposals that would oppose same-sex marriages in its churches and continue to teach that marriage is between “one man and one woman for life”, it said in a statement. The decision was made after five years of debate.
While Church of England bishops will later this week issue a formal apology to “LGBTQI+ people for the ‘rejection, exclusion and hostility’ they have faced in churches and the impact this has had on their lives,” According to the statement, the century-old institution will still not allow same-sex couples to marry in a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013.
A protester holds a placard as they protest outside Church House, the site of the Church of England General Synod, in London February 15, 2017. DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images
Instead, the church will offer a service that includes “prayers of devotion, thanksgiving, or for God’s blessing upon the couple at church after a civil marriage or partnership.” Use of the prayers would be voluntary for clergy, which the church says reflects its “theological diversity”.
This is the first time the Church has permitted blessings for same-sex civil marriages.
“Both personally and on behalf of my fellow bishops, I wish to express our deep sorrow and sadness at the way LGBTQI+ people and those they love have been treated by the church, which above all should recognize everyone as valuable and created that image of God,” said Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York.
“We are deeply sorry and ashamed and want to take this opportunity to start anew in the spirit of repentance that our faith teaches us.”
Jayne Ozanne, a British LGBTQ+ activist, said the church’s decision was “absolutely despicable” and called Cottrell’s apology “hollow.”
After the car accident of the bishops’ decisions 👇 pic.twitter.com/Sg4NmDq2Td
— Jayne Ozanne 🇺🇦 (@JayneOzanne) January 18, 2023
“I can’t believe five years of pain and trauma has brought us here,” Ozanne said Twitter.
“We have received countless apologies over the years but have taken no action to stop the harmful discrimination. It is an insult to all who trusted the process.”
The General Synod will discuss the proposals during the February 6-9 session, with the main debate on the proposals taking place on February 8th.
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