Church of England faces fresh calls to bless same-sex couples

The Church of England is now facing multiple calls to bless same-sex couples after bishops appeared to kick the issue into the long grass.

A private member's motion was tabled to the Church's ruling general synod this weekend asking bishops to approve an 'order of prayer and dedication' to use after a same-sex marriage or civil partnership.

Reuters

The wording was tabled by Christina Baron, from the diocese of Bath and Wells, and is exactly the same as a motion passed last year by the diocese of Hereford. It will need 100 signatures in order to be debated at the synod and while it is unlikely to be considered imminently it will add to pressure on bishops to debate the issue of same-sex blessings.

It comes after a 'grassroots' campaign was launched in the wake of the Hereford diocesan motion to persuade the Church of England to adopt formal services to bless gay couples. The lobby group One Body One Faith called for multiple motions to follow Hereford 'strengthening the message from Hereford and demonstrating the groundswell of support for authorised services for couples'.

Richard Frith, the bishop of Hereford, said at the time: 'It's about exploring – what are the acceptable limits, how far can we go? Some people would want to go the whole hog and say we should have same-sex marriages in church.

'This motion is not saying that and I'm not saying that either. But I am saying go further than just leaving it to individual clergy to do something informal.

'So it's moving things forward whilst remaining sensitive that we can't rush these things.'

Campaigners had hoped that blessings might offer a compromise rather than full same-sex marriage and so win some conservative support. However it is not clear whether a priest could 'bless' a same-sex relationship without changing the CofE's official teaching that marriage was exclusively between one man and one woman and any sexual act outside of marriage was sinful.

Lifestyle