Bishop of Oxford calls for an end to ban on same-sex marriage in Church of England

Nov 3, 2022 by

By Paul Handley, Church Times:

The Church of England should lift its ban on the marriage of same-sex couples, the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, has said — even if this means setting up an alternative episcopal structure for conservative priests and parishes.

At stake, he says, is the Church of England’s claim to serve the whole of society. Its anti-LGBTQ+ stance “is leading to a radical dislocation between the Church of England and the culture and society we are attempting to serve”.

The College of Bishops met this week to debate how the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the General Synod when it next meets in February, at the end of the long Living in Love and Faith (LLF) consultation and education process.

Dr Croft sent each of the bishops a copy of a new 50-page booklet, Together in Love and Faith: Personal reflections and next steps for the Church, which he is publishing more widely today (Friday). In the booklet (extract here), he apologises that the Church has been so slow “to reach better decisions and practice”, and that his own views were “slow to change and that my actions, and lack of action, have caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain”.

Dr Croft is the only serving diocesan bishop to declare his belief that the C of E should allow clergy to marry same-sex couples in church and be able to be married to same-sex partners themselves. Neither is currently permitted, though clergy can be in same-sex partnerships on the tacit understanding that they remain celibate.

In his booklet, the Bishop describes the harm that he believes is caused by the Church’s call to celibacy for same-sex-attracted people. Some, he writes, “because of their devotion to Christ and the close support of family and friends and churches, are able to receive this call and live it out, but many are not”.

Read here

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