Church of England synod approves bishops’ proposals to bless same-sex couples

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally speaks at the General Synod. At left is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Photo/Geoff Crawford/Church Times

The Church of England’s General Synod has agreed to welcome the bishops’ proposals to provide prayers to bless same-sex unions in church — but with a last-minute clarification that their use would not contradict the church’s current teaching on marriage.

The debate on the proposals (News, 20 January), which began after lunch on Feb. 8, ran over time by several hours, concluding on Feb. 9 with a vote by houses.

The result was: bishops, 36 in favor, four against, with two abstentions; clergy, 111 in favor, 85 against, with three abstentions; laity, 103 in favor, 92 against, with five abstentions.

The size of the vote against the blessings — after eight hours of debate and six years of discussion about sexuality and identity through the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project — was a clear indication that the chief concern here was not to mollify those who had wanted to be able to marry same-sex couples in church rather than just bless them, as some had thought, according to the story in Church Times.

Instead it was to keep conservative evangelicals in a church which, as many of them see it, was proposing to endorse extra-marital sex. 

The compromise thrashed out in several meetings of the College and House of Bishops was carefully guarded throughout the debate, despite dozens of attempts to alter and remove clauses — or, in one instance, rewrite it entirely.

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