Church of Scotland will apologise for treatment of gays, move towards same-sex marriage
The Church of Scotland made a groundbreaking decision to apologise for its historical treatment of gay people and to take steps toward accepting same-sex marriage.
The decision came as the General Assembly for the church met this afternoon.
The Assembly voted in a decision to “take stock of its history of discrimination against gay people, at different levels and in different ways”.
The Church said it would apologise “individually, corporately and seek to do better.”
It also agreed to instruct its Legal Questions Committee to look into whether Church law can be re-written to allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish to do so.
But the Church instructed the Committee to leave in place legal protections for Ministers and Deacons who refuse to officiate same-sex marriages as a “matter of conscience”.
Same-sex marriage taking place in Church of Scotland churches is some way off, however.
The committee will present its findings in a year’s time at the next General Assembly.
Debates of several hours took place before commissioners approved the moves.
The report which led to the positive moves was accused of being “biased” and “one-sided” by some commissioners.
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But the votes still went toward moving to accept and make amends for the treatment of gay people.
The forum convener who presented the report, Very Reverend Professor Iain Torrance said he and his colleagues could see “no sufficient theological reason for the Church not to authorise specific ministers to officiate at same-sex weddings”.
He added that this would be possible “if doing so does not prejudice the position of those who decline to do so for reasons of conscience”.
One commissioner, Reverend Scott Rennie, said he was “delighted” at the decisions by the Assembly.
“There was a real feeling that we have to find space for everyone in the Church and I hope it is not too many years before I am able to marry people of the same gender,” he added.
Scott Rennie, a gay minister who was appointed in 2008 – sparking a huge controversy – had welcomed the debate.
Reverend Rennie said the concept the Church could recognise its failing towards gay people was “one of the most positive and hopeful things I have read in a report to the General Assembly in many years.”
The reverend, who has repeatedly urged the Church to reconsider its opposition to same-sex marriage, added: “It recognises, at last, the diversity of people that make up the Church of Scotland, and Scotland at large.