Church of England bishops prepare for a showdown over same-sex marriage
The Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Church of England and ceremonial head of the global Anglican Communion, strives to strike a balance between conservative and progressive views on LGBTQ affirmation in the interest of maintaining church unit
The Church of England's bishops are gathering this week to prepare recommendations that will be presented to the General Synod, the body that oversees the church, at a meeting in February regarding marriage for same-sex couples.
The document they'll be talking about, "Living in Love and Faith," covers a wide range of issues related to love and marriage, but same-sex relationships are the most contentious.
The gathering occurs as church membership, particularly among evangelical members of the episcopate who have long opposed homosexual marriage, is shifting in favour of it. But if the bishops decide to suggest a change in doctrine, they are aware that it will have an impact on the entire Anglican Communion, not just in England.
The current archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, attempted to appease conservative bishops by reiterating a 1998 statement that gay sex is a sin while assuring liberals by saying he would not punish national churches in the Communion that allow priests to marry same-sex couples this summer at the Anglican Communion's all-bishops meeting known as the Lambeth Conference. Conservative bishops from the South criticised Welby's decision to not punish parishes for allowing homosexual marriage.
Prior to the bishops' two-day meeting this week, Welby informed The Times that he would hold off on saying what he personally believes about marriage for LGBTQ Christians. By doing so, he ran the risk of enraging both sides once more. He stated that it was his responsibility to be a source of unity, hence he chose not to express his opinions on the matter.