Church of England votes in favour of offering blessings to same-sex couples

9 February 2023, 16:04

The Church of England's General Synod has voted in favour of a motion to offer blessings to same-sex couples
The Church of England's General Synod has voted in favour of a motion to offer blessings to same-sex couples. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The Church of England has voted in favour of offering blessings to same-sex couples.

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A marathon near-eight hour debate across two days ended in a vote for the motion on Thursday at a meeting of the General Synod, which is the church's parliament. All three houses voted in favour of the motion.

A packed room at Church House in Westminster remained silent and calm when the result of the vote was announced.

Immediately before the vote a minute of silence was observed followed by a prayer said by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Approval of the motion allows same-sex couples to go to Anglican churches after a legal marriage ceremony for services including prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and God's blessing.

The motion did not seek to change the position on gay marriage, meaning same-sex couples are still unable to marry in church.

The motion had been brought by the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, and was the result of six years of work on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage known as Living In Love And Faith.

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The General Synod, the governing body of the church, is meeting to discuss gay marriage
The General Synod, the governing body of the church, is meeting to discuss gay marriage. Picture: Alamy
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, say a prayer during a Synod at the General Synod of the Church of England
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, say a prayer during a Synod at the General Synod of the Church of England. Picture: Alamy

Dame Sarah described the outcome as a "moment of hope for the Church".

She said: "I know that what we have proposed as a way forward does not go nearly far enough for many but too far for others.

"It is my prayer that what has been agreed today will represent a step forward for all of us within the Church, including LGBTQI+ people, as we remain committed to walking together.

"We have always said we will listen carefully to Synod, so over the next few months so we will reflect on everything which has been said and prepare new pastoral guidance for the Church on matters of sexuality and marriage.

"We will also refine the texts of prayers of love and faith."

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In a joint statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said it had been a "long road to get us to this point".

"For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church," they said.

"The Church continues to have deep differences on these questions which go to the heart of our human identity.

"As Archbishops, we are committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this goes too far and to ensure that they have all the reassurances they need in order to maintain the unity of the church as this conversation continues.

"We hope that today's thoughtful, prayerful debate marks a new beginning for the Church as we seek a way forward, listening to each other and most of all to God.

"Above all we continue to pray, as Jesus himself prayed, for the unity of his church and that we would love one another."

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