Church of England delays same-sex blessings

Anglican Church

The Church of England is delaying controversial plans to bless same-sex couples, official papers reveal.

In February, the Church’s lawmaking body approved blessings for lesbian and gay couples. The approval was limited to couples who were already married or had a civil partnership.

The landmark vote drew ire from both sides of the Church’s same-sex blessings debate.

Progressives say it doesn’t go far enough to offer full equality. They point out the Anglican Church still prohibits same-sex marriages.

Conservatives claim Holy Matrimony should be between only a man and a woman.

Several details regarding the February decision were supposed to have been ironed out during the Synod in York held on 7-8 July.

These details included deciding the final wording of the prayers and blessings. Pastoral guidance on whether gay priests can now have civil weddings and whether sexually active couples can be blessed were also on the York agenda.

However, the timetable for finalising these details has been delayed because bishops are “dithering” over finalising the approval, The Telegraph reports.

‘Implementation requires further work’.

The Bishop of Lichfield, Rt Rev Michael Ipgrave (pictured), says “given the emerging necessity for well-considered pastoral reassurance to meet a range of needs, the implementation phase has required further work.

“We recognise the frustration felt by those who were hoping to use the prayers sooner, as well as the uncertainty for couples and ordinands.

“However, it is important that the theological, pastoral and liturgical work promised… is conducted thoroughly and responds to the many questions raised by General Synod and others.”

Ipgrave’s comments followed written questions submitted by Synod members.

He says February’s landmark motion “gave no timetable for the completion of the work”.

He adds, however, that “it was hoped to complete the majority of the tasks by July 2023”. The draft guidance should be ready by November, he says.

Cost of waiting

“There is a cost to the time taken to make sure we get everything lined up,” says Nic Tall, a lay Synod member.

“I’ve had clergy who have had people wanting to get dates in the diary, which then had to be cancelled.

“And there are other people just waiting…

“There will be others for whom being able to effectively declare their love for their partner in church and before God is deeply important. That’s why we want to facilitate this, and it is just being put on hold.”


  • The Telegraph
  • This article has been changed to reflect that it is the Church of England that is delaying the plans to bless same-sex couples. Originally the article said it was the Anglican Church.
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