A senior Church of England bishop has criticised his colleague’s stance over gay “weddings” for priests as “unbiblical” and unworkable.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said guidance issued by the House of Bishops in response to civil partnerships undermines Church teaching and unity.

He also criticised his fellow bishops for failing to consult with the wider Church before releasing their statement, which he predicted would be a “recipe for confusion”.

In a letter to his clergy, he said: “In the days to come, this step will both severely test the Church’s discipline and stretch pastoral relationships to breaking point.”

Under the guidance, clergy are allowed to enter into civil partnerships but only if they first assure their bishop they will abstain from sex.

The policy was presented as the unanimously agreed position of the House of Bishops, but both conservatives and liberals privately expressed their misgivings.

The liberal Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev Peter Selby, also distanced himself from the guidance, arguing that it failed to give enough support to gay couples.