England: Anglicans Agrees to Bless Same-Sex Couples
General Synod of the Church of England
The General Synod of the Church of England – the title of the Anglican Church – voted to bless same-sex couples while leaving unchanged the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The General Synod of the Church of England voted 250 to 181 on Thursday to approve offering blessings to same-sex couples in civil marriages. “For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, wholeheartedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples into the church,” said Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell in a joint statement.
“The Church continues to have deep differences on these issues that go to the heart of our human identity,” the archbishops continued. They said they are “committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this has gone too far and to ensuring that they have all the safeguards they need to maintain the unity of the church as this conversation continues.”
Some Anglican leaders objected that the Church could not bless sinful relationships and warned the vote undermined the unity of the Anglican Communion, while proponents of redefining marriage said they would revisit the issue during future synods.
The Synod narrowly approved an amendment upholding marriage as uniquely being union of a man and a woman. And by 52% for, and 5% against, he rejected an amendment requiring a vote on a proposal to recognize same-sex unions as marriages within two years, The Guardian reported.
The decision drew criticism from the Church of England's Evangelical Council, which called it a “losing” position that would demoralize believers without placating supporters of redefining marriage.
The Council deeply deplored the fact that the General Synod gave its “green light” to the proposals put forward by the House of Bishops. “The Church of England now seems set on a path that rejects our historical and biblical understanding of sex and marriage, departing from the apostolic faith that we are called to uphold.”
The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, an association that represents more than 20 provinces of the Anglican Communion, said it “deeply regrets” the decision, saying it “goes against the prevailing spirit of the Anglican Communion.” The Church cannot “bless” in the name of God the union of same-sex partners, the global Anglican group has said.
The association said the Archbishop of Canterbury's actions in the vote has caused it to “question his fitness to lead what is still a World Communion.” With great sadness, the group said that “the Church of England has now joined the provinces with which communion is compromised.”
Anglican Bishop Steven Croft of Oxford, who supports redefining marriage to include same-sex unions, said the vote was a “significant and historic step.” He called the marriage doctrine amendment “important to reassure those who are more conservative,” but said the church would not stop revisiting the issue.
The Anglican Communion fractured dramatically in 2003 when the US-based Episcopal Church voted to ordain as bishop, V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in a homosexual relationship.
(Source : CNA – FSSPX.Actualités)
Illustration : churchofengland.org