Church of England bishops have recommended that blessings for those in same-sex partnerships should be “commended” for use in public worship.
Clergy will be allowed to use the officially sanctioned prayers in their churches without a vote at next month’s General Synod.
In a public letter, eleven bishops criticised the decision to commend the prayers without final agreement from General Synod. They said this prevented Synod from considering “the full significance of the prayers”, or allowing them to test whether they are ‘indicative of a departure’ from Church doctrine.
In February, the Synod voted to welcome proposals for the prayers, provided they were not “contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England”.
The Church’s legal office previously defended the legality of the proposed prayers, claiming the blessings were for same-sex couples, rather than for the civil partnerships themselves.
The House of Bishops will also present “special standalone services” to the November Synod which will provide liturgy for blessing those in same-sex partnerships.
These ‘special services’ will require a two-thirds majority in each of the three Houses (Bishops, Clergy and Laity) to receive final approval.
‘Stand and pray’
Following the February vote, The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches announced that it could no longer remain “in communion” with the CofE, while increasing numbers of clergy lamented that they could no longer recognise its leadership.
The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) concluded that “it is a consequence of God’s word no longer being treated as authoritative in parts of the Anglican Communion which has led to the current divisions” and are causing it to “cease to exist in anything like its current form”.
But the CEEC backed calls to “stand with and pray for those faithful Anglicans who remain within the Church of England” and support “their efforts to uphold biblical orthodoxy”.