Two bishops have broken ranks to speak out against the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
They say that the Church’s official position does not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.
Their intervention comes as critics prepare to challenge the policy at General Synod next month, exposing faultlines within the Church.
It now faces a second highly divisive row in the coming weeks – as the leadership struggles to avoid a disastrous split over women bishops.
Two weeks ago the Church published its formal response to the Government’s proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry, declaring itself firmly against the move.
The two bishops are the most senior figures to attack the stance. The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said: “The statement is narrow and legalistic … Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he said a certain amount about loving your neighbour as yourself.”
The Rt Rev Tim Ellis, the Bishop of Grantham, said the official position did not reflect the true “mind” of the Church.
Bishop Ellis said he was concerned about the “freedom” of bishops like himself and objected to being bound by a “party line” on the issue. “In truth, the bishops in the media have not spoken for me or the way in which I understand this thorny matter,” he wrote on his blog, “and I suspect they do not speak for a sizeable minority or even majority within the life of the Church.”
Bishop Wilson said: “The statement doesn’t speak for me at all, frankly. There is a groundswell of opinion that says, ‘This does not speak for us.’
“That’s just a matter of fact. It corresponds with the feedback I’m getting, and other colleagues are having the same experience. There is a sea change going on.”
- Church of England accused of scaremongering over gay marriage (guardian.co.uk)
- English Bishops: God’s Grace in Gay Marriage (queeringthechurch.com)
- US Episcopal Presiding Bishop, on Gay Clergy And Birth Control (queeringthechurch.com)
- Australian Churches Divided on Gay Marriage (queeringthechurch.com)