Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, January 20, 2023

Church of England: Blessing Same-Sex Couples

From the New York Times:

The Church of England apologized for its past treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. people on Friday, but said it would continue its practice of not allowing same-sex marriages in church, a reflection of a delicate balancing act that has once again highlighted stark divisions in the nearly 500-year-old institution.

Instead of backing same-sex unions, the church said it would offer clergy members new ways to “affirm and celebrate same-sex couples,” like prayers for “God’s blessing on the couple in church following a civil marriage or partnership.”

The policy shift, endorsed by bishops this week and outlined in a report released Friday, was seen by some as a mark of progress. But the report made clear that the blessings are not mandated and would be voluntary for clergy.

The apology, also contained in the report, said: “For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry. The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this we repent.”

It continued, “We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.”

The planned blessings are the culmination of six years of consultations on same-sex marriage within the church. The proposal will be presented next month to the Church of England’s governing body, the General Synod, in the hope that it can curb decades of “damaging and bitter” division on the issue, the report said.

The Church of England is the original church in the global Anglican Communion, which now claims tens of millions of members in 165 countries. The communion has been engaged in a bitter debate over how to treat its L.G.B.T.Q. members since 2003, when the American branch — the Episcopal Church — consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. The communion has struggled to avoid schism as some provinces have moved to welcome L.G.B.T.Q. members and celebrate their relationships, while others — mostly in the global South — have remained vehemently opposed.

Read more here.

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