CofE allows same-sex partners to be blessed in Sunday services

The Church of England will allow clergy to use regular public worship services to bless those in same-sex partnerships from this Sunday.

The House of Bishops voted by 24 to 11, with three abstentions, to permit ministers to use a “selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples” in existing services from 17 December. Two bishops urged clergy not to use the blessings.

The Living in Love and Faith Pastoral Guidance states that: “No minister can ever be forced to use the prayers against their conscience.”

‘Divisive and arrogant’

In the Church of England’s press release on the plans, it claimed: “The Church’s understanding of marriage – or Holy Matrimony – remains as a lifelong, faithful and exclusive covenant between one man and one woman.

“Yet some may wish to recognise the commitment same-sex couples make to each other and publicly pray for God’s blessing on them.”

Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Network in Europe, the Rt Revd Andy Lines, criticised the House of Bishops for ignoring the “pleas of the majority of the Anglican Communion, nearly half of the clergy and laity in General Synod and nearly a third of their own members”.

He lamented the decision to “push ahead along a highly divisive path which arrogantly rejects the authority of scripture and cravenly follows the latest trends in Western secular culture”.

‘Deep sadness’

Last month, the Church of England narrowly agreed to trial “special standalone services” for blessing those in same-sex partnerships.

Under previous proposals, the services would have been authorised under a two-year long process, which would have required a two-thirds majority in each of the General Synod’s three Houses.

Instead, Synod backed a proposal to fast-track trial services. The amendment required a simple majority to pass and succeeded in the House of Laity by just one vote.

In a statement, bishops of the Anglican Network in Europe spoke of their “deep sadness” at the Synod’s continuing rejection of Scripture, and promised to stand with faithful Christians within the Church.

Also see:

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CofE Synod narrowly approves trial services for same-sex blessings

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