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UK News

Bishop of Liverpool becomes most senior C of E figure to back marriage between same-sex couples in church

Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, has called for a gender-neutral marriage canon to be brought into law.

Bishop Paul, 67, said the Church of England should recognise marriage between people of the same sex and allow such ceremonies to take place in church.

He made the comments during the keynote speech on Saturday for the network Mosaic Anglicans, a church coalition focused on a range of issues, including race and sexuality.

"I want to see a gender-neutral marriage canon, such as they have in the Episcopal Church (in the U.S) or in the Scottish Episcopal Church, he said. And, as a necessary but not sufficient first step, I want to see conscientious freedom for the Church's ministers and local leaders to honour, recognise, and, yes indeed, to bless same-sex unions, whether civil partnerships or civil marriages.

"... I want to see an end to LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are for fear of being exposed to conversion therapy or to being forbidden to minister in churches. I want to see an end to the inquisition of ordinands about their private lives. I want to see all this before I die," he said

He went on to say he wanted the church to remain as one church.

"I want to see the conscientious rights of conservative people preserved for them. But I don't want any longer to see the conscientious rights of progressive people, who believe the truth of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York when they ask for a radical NEW Christian inclusion, I don't want to see their consciences ignored and explained away and overridden and indeed criminalised by the power of conservative groups and people."

He added that same-sex love and the blessing of its expression had become his agenda as bishop. 

"Although I never asked for this agenda before I came to Liverpool, I am glad to have inhabited that space now. As I grow older and the arc of my own ministry draws close to its end, I am glad to be able to speak wholeheartedly for a vision of Christian community that does not stink of oppression or of hypocrisy in the nostrils of the world," he said.

Bayes has become increasingly outspoken on LGBTQ+ rights in recent years.

The C of E's ruling body, the General Synod, will once again discuss issues of sexuality at an online meeting, in just under two weeks' time.

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