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The Church in Wales set to bless same-sex unions in new Bill

by Heather Preston

Same-sex marriages and civil partnerships could soon receive blessings from The Church in Wales, if a new Bill is passed next month.

The Church's governing body is set to consider new legislation to authorise a ceremonial blessing for same-sex unions on 6th September.

Currently, same-sex couples are not permitted to marry within The Church in Wales.

The new bill proposes offering a "service of blessing" to be used "experimentally" over the next five years at individual clergy's discretion. 

The Bishop lead Bill comes after governing body members expressed concern over a lack of formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships, call it "pastorally unsustainable".

"Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the Church by asking God's blessing upon their commitment," a Church in Wales statement reads.

The controversial Bill is described as a "step on the way towards repentance" for the Church which has "demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people" and "precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership." 

Bishops are encouraging a respectful debate by governing body members that acknowledges the difficult issues of faith and belief it will raise.

A set of issued 'Pastoral Principles' urges people not to undermine "sincerely held views" or "walk away from each other" but to pursue unity. 

The Governing Body meeting will be live-streamed via a link on the Church in Wales website and YouTube channel. 

Earlier this year the Methodist Church became the largest religious denomination in Britain to permit same-sex marriages. 

Same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

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