Anglicans with traditional views on marriage say they are saddened by the Church of England’s decision to offer blessings for same sex couples in church from this Sunday.
It follows a vote yesterday by the House of Bishops by 24 to 11 in favour of commending the Prayers of Love and Faith resources for use in regular public worship. The decision follows a seven year process of listening and discernment over the issue known as ‘Living in Love and Faith’.
Rev Peter Ould, who is a Church of England vicar and also a commentator on matters of sexuality has been giving his view to Premier.
“I'm really saddened by this," he said. "There’s lots of clergy, evangelical clergy, middle of the road clergy and Catholic Church clergy, who are really disappointed that the House of bishops have taken this step against a lot of advice and knowing that it’s going to cause massive damage to the Church of England. So I'm disappointed that we, as a Church are putting forward prayers and we are doing it on such a narrow margin in terms of votes for and against.
“There are lots of clergy and churches who want to know how they're going to be looked after if they dissent, if they continue to hold to the doctrine of the Church of England. None of that has been explained that this point.
“Some things in the pastoral guidance show that bishops are almost washing their hands of clergy and the doctrine. It feels like we're almost being gaslit.”
Rev Ould said that just before the House of Bishops meeting, a broad alliance of Anglo Catholics and evangelicals had written to the bishops telling them not to go ahead with the guidance.
“I think you'll see a whole series of churches across the traditional spectrum begin to look for alternative Episcopal sort of structures. I would expect to see legal challenges, I'd expect to see a very strong pushback from some of the leaders of the Anglican provinces overseas. We are in for very stormy times. And we don't really know where this will end, but what we do know is God is sovereign. God is in charge.”
The House of Bishops has said it will consider pastoral provision to protect the conscience of those who wish to use the Prayers and of those who do not.
It says it is intended that there will be wide process of consultation regarding the provision to ensure that whatever is agreed serves to promote unity and has broad support across the Church.