One third of senior bishops in the Church of England want to see priests allowed to enter same-sex marriage, according to a new statement signed by 44 senior clerics. The group comprised of 15 diocesan bishops and 29 assistant or suffragan bishops called for “a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands”. “We look forward to Guidance being issued without delay that includes the removal of all restrictions on clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, and on bishops ordaining and licensing such clergy, as well as granting permissions to officiate,” they wrote. According to the Church Times, the guidance already exists in draft, but a decision was made not to rush its publishing as “further work” on it was needed. Last month, the House of Bishops made public its plan to commend prayers for same-sex couples “very soon” while announcing that a standalone service would go through a lengthier process. A few days later, 12 bishops – seven diocesan and five suffragans – voiced their dissent, arguing the proposals failed “to safeguard the pastoral stability, mission and unity of the church”.
For the 44 senior clerics, who’ve signed the latest letter, the House of Bishops’ proposals are not perfect either: “We rejoice that we have agreed to commend the Prayers of Love and Faith, and warmly support their use. Many of us regret that the authorisation of the separate Service Structures and Sample Services has been delayed, and we will work within agreed processes to secure that authorisation as soon as possible.” They further stated: “We know that we will not all agree, but it is our longing that we will find a way that will recognise and honour our different perspectives and the gift we are to each other within the life of the Church of England, such that no one is expected to act against their conscience or theological conviction.” “In all of this we long for the day when LGBTQIA+ people will know themselves to be unquestionably included in the life and all ministries of our Church, and the contributions of each one of us fully accepted and celebrated as simply the offering of a fellow Christian.”
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