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Bishop labels Church of England ‘hypocritical’ over civil partnerships

Bishop Alan WilsonBy Edward Malnick, Telegraph

The Church of England is facing fresh divisions over same-sex unions. Its leadership has come under attack from one of its own bishops over its refusal to bless homosexual couples.

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Dr Alan Wilson, said the Church’s ban on offering blessings for civil partnerships was being flouted by several parishes across Britain.

He said this was because some felt the blessings were “logical, natural and compassionate”.

His comments come amid tensions within the Church over its opposition to the Government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

The newly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has underlined his opposition to the plans.

However, a survey by The Sunday Telegraph has found several churches openly offering blessings for gay couples in civil partnerships.

Dr Wilson said bishops were turning a blind eye to churches flouting the rules to avoid a confrontation between the new archbishop and traditionalist leaders in Africa and South America, who strongly oppose any moves to bless homosexual couples.

He said: “At the moment the policy is, 'Don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all know that in many dioceses there are one or two places these gay blessings have been happening. It’s hypocrisy, although it is understandable.

“Underlying the crisis there is believed to be a need for the archbishop to say to conservative elements in the Anglican Communion, 'Oh no, we don’t do that sort of thing. It’s only the naughty Americans do that.’”

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