29 Nov 2013

Church of England proposes blessings for gay marriage

11:12 am on 29 November 2013

Anglican clergy in Britain would be able to "bless" same-sex relationships in church services under proposals that strengthen the Church of England's more open approach to homosexuality.

The latest proposals, released on Thursday, come after the mother church for the world's 80 million Anglicans earlier this year dropped its ban on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.

One of 18 recommendations put forward by a two-year working group suggested clergy should "be able to offer appropriate services to mark a faithful same-sex relationship".

Although gay couples would still not be able to legally marry in a church, the proposed change would officially sanction clergy to let gay and lesbian couples mark and celebrate same-sex marriages and civil partnerships in a church service.

The group, which had its dissenters, also said the church should warmly welcome and affirm "the presence within the church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained".

"The church's teaching on sexuality is in tension with contemporary social attitudes, not only for gay and lesbian christians but for straight Christians too," noted the report.

It will now be discussed by key groups in the church, Reuters reports.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has acknowledged there has been a "revolution" in attitudes towards homosexuality and that the church's stance against gay marriage could be seen as out-of-step with public opinion.

Britain's Parliament approved same-sex marriage earlier this year, despite opposition from several religious groups and Conservative legislators, allowing gay couples to marry in England from 2014.