The Church of England has approved same-sex unions.
After three years of discussions behind closed doors, the Church of England yesterday approved same-sex weddings, prompting archbishops to express regret for the “harm and suffering” they have caused to the LGBT community.
A decision on revising Anglican doctrine that declares homosexual sex to be immoral will be made within two years, according to leaders who acknowledged that “the language of truth, purity, and discipleship has been wielded cruelly.”
Those involved will develop a “path forward for the church in respect to human identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage” under the direction of the Right Reverend Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London.
To examine the topic, church leaders have written a 480-page book and developed associated movies, podcasts, and educational programs.
Since 1987, when the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, passed a resolution affirming the long-held belief that homosexual acts are sinful, the Church has been bitterly divided on LGBT rights. Bishops reiterated the teaching earlier this year that civil unions should be “sexually abstinent friendships” and that sexual activity is only permitted between married couples.
Civil partnerships, which have all the benefits of marriage except for the name, were adopted in 2005, while same-sex civil weddings were introduced in 2014. However, the law provided a legitimate opt-out for religious organizations.
Archbishop Welby stated in the preface to the book he co-wrote with the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, that the Church should be ashamed of hurting LGBT people.
They said: “We need to address the enormous damage and grief that have been inflicted where rhetoric of truth, holiness, and discipleship has been wielded brutally and not ministered as a healing balm as soon as we begin to explore concerns of sexual identity and behavior.
Despite our best efforts, every word we use, particularly when referring to LGBTI+ people, has the potential to be painful.This includes the words in this preface.
Hurt and needless suffering have been created by us and will continue to be caused by us. Each of us should feel profound shame and repentance for such actions, as should the church as a whole. We are deeply regretful, as archbishops, for whatever part we may have played in this.
The Right Reverend Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, who contributed to the creation of yesterday’s new material, stated: “There is no doubt that there will be some issues that the Church will have to confront in 2022.”
He added: ‘There are some who feel this doctrine of marriage is ripe for development.’