The Church of England should not drop its opposition to gay marriage, a new report suggests.
There is “little support” for an official change in the Church’s stance according to The House of Bishops, who published the document. This is a group of 50 senior officials who make up one of the three divisions of the General Synod, the Church of England’s legislative body. The claim was made following three years of “shared conversations” held in private by members of the clergy.
Despite this recommendation on same sex marriage, the Church should establish “a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people” the report stated.
The document has been met with criticism from members of the Church. On BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme, north London parish priest Andrew Foreshaw-Cain called it a “failure of leadership”. Foreshaw-Cain is in a same sex marriage and warned that the LGBT community within the Church would be “extremely hurt” by the recommendations.
“We were asked to trust our leaders and many of us made ourselves vulnerable during the shared conversations process and none of that has been heard … The bishops have gone ahead and talked as if we didn’t take part in it and as if we are not there.”
The majority of Anglican Christians support gay marriage, the priest claimed, but this is not reflected in the House of Bishops report.
Tracey Byrne is the Chief Executive of LGBT rights charity the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. She said that gay members of the Church had “participated in this process in good faith, at considerable personal cost”. They will be “angry and disappointed that there appears so little real change”.
In open letter to the bishops, Byrne’s organisation claimed that the report essentially asks LGBT members of the clergy to “keep the nature of their relationships hidden”. The letter read:
“[F]ar from equalising the situation between straight and gay clergy, it pushes LGBTI+ clergy back into the closet.”
The report will be discussed at the Church’s upcoming General Synod meeting, which will take place next month in London.
Read the full report here.
Photo by Chris Brown via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.