Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gay couples who get married will be able to ask for special prayers in the Church of England after their wedding, the bishops have agreed.

But priests who are themselves in same-sex relationships or even civil partnerships will be banned from getting married when it becomes legally possible next month.
The ban, contained in new “pastoral guidance” from the Church of England, comes despite rules which allow those in civil partnerships to become priests and even bishops – as long as they claim to be celibate

But the guidelines, announced by the House of Bishops ahead of the coming into force of the Same-Sex Marriage Act next month, also state that non-clergy who get married to someone of the same sex will be free to continue to receive communion within the Church of England.

Although the Church will not be carrying out same-sex weddings, the new guidance also invites newlywed gay couples to ask their local priest for special prayers which will be seen as informal endorsements of their marriage.

The main stipulation is that the priest must not refer to it as a service of “blessing” – a term which is deeply divisive in the Church of England for theological reasons.
the deal, reached in a meeting of bishops behind closed doors, will also anger traditionalists who see any endorsement of gay marriage as a major departure from what they see as the teaching of the Bible.

Copies of the guidelines were last night sent to bishops and archbishops in other Anglican churches around the world, many of whom have already publicly accused the Church of England of drifting away from Biblical orthodoxy.

In a joint letter accompanying the guidelines, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, acknowledged that there are deep divisions in the Church of England – including between bishops – over the issue.

They described same-sex marriage, which will be possible in England and Wales from March 29, as a “new reality” with implications for the Church of England.

While insisting that traditional doctrines remain unchanged, they added that they recognise that same-sex relationships contain some of the same “virtues” as marriage, upheld by the Church for centuries.

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