In England, after five years of consultation and sometimes heated debate, the Anglican Church has decided to reject the proposal to allow religious ministers to marry homosexual couples. A decision disputed internally, and which widens the gap with the Anglicans of Scotland who took a contrary position in May 2022.
In England and Wales, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013, but so far the Anglican hierarchy has opted for the status quo, at the risk of alienating the most liberal part of its clergy and followers.
Moreover, in August 2022, Justin Welby – Archbishop of Canterbury and as such Primate of England – recognized “deep differences in many areas” within the Anglican confession, and admitted to facing numerous criticisms for defending a 1998 synod decision rejecting same-sex marriage.
However, in order to avoid an implosion, the Anglican leader assured his colleagues gathered in Lambeth last summer that he would not punish the clerics who had celebrated unions between people of the same sex.
This position was undermined in November 2022 by the Reverend Steven Croft, head of Oxford Anglicans, one of the oldest clerics in the kingdom who called for recognition of “the acute pain and distress of LGBT people living within the Anglican Church.”
In order not to divide the communion which brings together a “complicated group of churches,” Justin Welby preferred to act upstream of the synod, and not submit the question of the religious celebration of homosexual unions to the vote of the high Anglican clergy.
What is certain is that the gap in Anglicanism between Scotland and England has not finished widening. On May 23, 2022, an overwhelming majority of the members of the Church of Scotland synod – the largest confession in the UK – voted in favor of “marriage for all.”
In England, Anglicans make up around 20% of the population, and of these, less than 9% claim to practice their religion.
At the same time, the number of returns to Catholic unity is tending to increase. Thus Fr. Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen – who was ordained a Catholic priest in 2019 – explains his conversion by the fact that Anglicanism allegedly “capitulated” by “ordaining” women “bishops” or accepting homosexuals into the clergy.
“Only the Catholic Church has the (necessary) magisterial force not to give in to the prevailing culture,” he explains.