Gay marriage could lead to Church in Wales breakaway

The Westminster Government’s same-sex marriage Bill could lead to the Church in Wales being completely disestablished.

The proposal was raised by a Welsh Assembly Committee, but the Church responded cautiously to the idea.

Such a move would be warmly welcomed by secularists but it would further marginalise Christians.

Permanent

David Melding, the Welsh Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee Chairman, said it began an inquiry because of “issues which arose” from legislation on same-sex marriage.

He noted that the Church in Wales was originally not consulted on the plans.

And he said that while the Westminster Government had come up with a “short term fix” over the Church’s disestablishment status in the same-sex marriage legislation, a “wider issue exists” which needs a “more permanent solution”.

Ministry

This, he said, should include “considering the option of the Church in Wales becoming a fully disestablished body”.

But the Church in Wales said: “Certainly our position as a disestablished church which retains certain legal responsibilities to the community is unusual.

“However, in spite of that, we believe that we have a ministry to all the people in Wales, regardless of whether they are members of the Church.

Clash

“The Church in Wales has not considered the issue of whether it should seek to change its status in relation to the marriage law.”

Last year the Church of England warned that the Government’s plans could trigger a constitutional crisis and end the 500-year link between church and state.

It cautioned that redefining marriage would lead to an unprecedented clash between the Church’s canon law and that of Parliament, challenging the establishment of the Church of England.

Lost

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that marriage would be “abolished, redefined and recreated” under the Government’s plans.

Justin Welby, speaking in the House of Lords, warned that “confusion” was being created by the Bill, with fundamental aspects of marriage being “lost”, “diminished” or “weakened”.

The House of Lords passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in its first vote in June, and is now continuing to consider the legislation.

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