CoE plan to bless gay couples’ civil partnerships… But they may be told to take solemn declaration to remain celibate for life
By Jonathan Petre, Mail on Sunday
The Church of England is considering allowing gay couples to have their civil partnerships blessed in church.
Insiders have told The Mail on Sunday that a top-level panel of bishops set up to review the Church's policy on homosexuality is actively discussing the issue.
If the reform is approved, vicars would be permitted to conduct a formal blessing service in church for a same-sex couple who have earlier 'tied the knot' at a register office.
But any move to relax the ban on such blessings would provoke the biggest split yet in the Church, which is already reeling from rows over women and gay bishops.
One option the panel is expected to consider is a compromise under which gay couples seeking a blessing could be asked to declare they intend to remain celibate, in line with official Church teaching.
But this could create a backlash among gay couples, who would regard it as demeaning to be quizzed about their private lives.
A source close to the working party said that a 'wide-ranging discussion' was under way covering a 'whole range of options' and recommendations will be made to the House of Bishops later this year.
The working party of five bishops is meeting amid unprecedented pressure on the Church over its policies on homosexuality. Growing numbers of liberal clergy, including the Dean of St Paul's cathedral Dr David Ison, are openly calling for formal ceremonies for gay couples.
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