The bishops of the Church of England have deferred any decision on allowing blessings for same-sex marriages until next month.
90 bishops and eight women observers met all day yesterday to discuss the findings of the Pilling Report and the Church’s evolving approach to sexuality.
The wide-ranging report, published in November, contained 18 recommendations, including that the Church offer informal blessings to gay couples in lieu of any decision on equal marriage, apologising for the Church’s homophobic past, and doing more to combat homophobia.
However, the bishops, meeting behind closed doors, were unable to reach any real consensus on the issue of blessings, and issued a joint statement that said: “The House of Bishops will be meeting again next month to consider its approach when same-sex marriage becomes lawful in England and Wales”, and that the best they could hope for was a “good disagreement”
They did, however, seem to reach some consensus on the issue of homophobia, saying: “We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirming the need to stand firmly against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.”
The Church has long been divided on gay issues, especially among its younger members. A poll two months ago found that only 20% of Anglicans under 30 think that homosexuality is wrong, and just 21% of people think the Church is welcoming to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.