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Anglicans to decide on whether to bless same-sex unions

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A decision by the Church of England to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages may not lead to automatic changes in Bermuda, a leading clergyman has said.

In an historic shift, the church governing body of the General Synod voted by 250 to 181 to back a proposal by bishops aimed at easing internal tensions over the way it treats members of the LGBTQ+ community.

However, the move stops well short of introducing marriage equality as it will not allow same-sex couples to wed in church.

Canon Jerry Smith, a senior Anglican figure in Bermuda, has said that the Church is still “struggling” with the situation.

Local decision: Canon Jerry Smith and wife Marjorie (Photograph supplied)

Canon Smith, who said he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, who is abroad, told The Royal Gazette: “We are just going to have to wait and see what the fallout is from all this.

“The Church is still struggling with this. The Church has to remain faithful to its understanding of Scripture.

“But, also to minister to everyone who wants to receive ministry from the Church.

“Decisions from the General Synod do not, necessarily, become the norm in each diocese.

“The diocese, under the direction of their bishop will have to explore the implications for that diocese.”

Following the Church of England ruling the first blessings for LGBTQ+ couples could happen as soon as this summer.

Individual churches are being asked to make it clear whether they will follow the decision of the General Synod.

The governing body also decided the Church will apologise for the harm it has caused to gay and trans people in the past.

There will be also a review into banning same-sex marriages for members of the clergy.

A rule imposing celibacy on clergy in same-sex relationships is also to be looked at.

In a close victory for conservatives, the Church voted not to amend its doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman.

In a joint statement, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, called for a “new beginning” after the ruling.

They said: “For the first time, the C of E will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church.

The Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral in the City of Hamilton (File Photograph)

“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.”

Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, and a backer of marriage equality, branded the vote a “significant and historic step”.

He stated: “Same-sex couples will become much more visible and their relationships will be celebrated publicly and that, I think, will continue to change attitudes within the life of the Church.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “The offer of blessings to same-sex partners is an insult.

“Every heterosexual man and woman in England has the right to marry in their parish church — but not LGBTQ+ couples. That’s discrimination and discrimination is not a Christian value.”

The Church of England Evangelical Council said it was “deeply saddened” by the decision.

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Published February 10, 2023 at 8:02 am (Updated February 10, 2023 at 1:41 pm)

Anglicans to decide on whether to bless same-sex unions

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