Church of England refuses to marry same-sex couples in church

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 Church of England refuses to marry same-sex couples in church

The Church of England will not allow same-sex weddings in the church, but will allow priests to bless couples who marry in a civil ceremony, the latest chapter in the ongoing debate about LGBT rights in various Christian denominations.

After a six-year debate on the issue, the church said on Wednesday that the bishops had decided not to change the church's fundamental teaching, “that sacred marriage is between one man and one woman for life.” It said that the priest's blessing — this is the most that can be done without changing church teaching.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Justin Welby, said the move “seems to go too far for some and not far enough for others” but expressed hope it would be seen as a change for the greater good. The church said it also plans to apologize later this week to the LGBTQ community for the “rejection, isolation and hostility” they've experienced in churches and “the impact it's had on their lives.”

The debate about homosexuality has stirred up the Anglican Communion, a global family of churches with about 100 million members. Although the Anglican Church is the historical parent, it does not have a common leadership for all congregations, unlike the Catholic Church, which has a governance structure.
< br />A number of Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the USA, allow same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Elsewhere in the UK, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland allow same-sex weddings. The Anglican Church in Wales allows the blessing of same-sex relationships, but not same-sex marriages.

But many Anglican churches in Africa and elsewhere in the south oppose these practices on the grounds that they are contrary to Scripture. Last summer, bishops from Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, representing some 44 million of the world's 100 million Anglicans, according to the World Christian Database, boycotted the Lambeth Conference, a periodic meeting of Anglican leaders, protesting the presence of churches with liberal teachings and practices of accepting homosexuality.

A well-known supporter of same-sex marriage in the Church of England on Wednesday criticized the bishops' decision.

“The inconsistency of their proposals should be obvious to everyone and will please no one, neither conservatives nor progressives,” — said Rev. Andrew Forew-Kane, chaplain to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, who has been married under civil law since 2014. — “This will not end the debates and struggles in the Council of Europe, and indeed may just complicate things for everyone.”

Jane Ozann, a well-known Anglican and LGBT activist, said same-sex couples with a sense of discrimination. But the anti-same-sex marriage organization Christian Concern called the move “surrender” and stated that it was “giving way to the celebration of same-sex marriage in all but name”.

England and Wales legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, with Scotland joining soon after, prompting British supporters same-sex marriages say it's time for the church to follow suit. Some bishops have spoken out in favor of the change, as have a number of British MPs.

The Anglican Church is the country's established church and is supported by public funds.
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