How can the Church of England be ‘welcoming’ when it bans priests from marrying gay people?

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A Church of England decision to reiterate its ban on clergy from marrying same-sex couples has angered LGBT Christian campaigners.

The House of Bishops confirmed the move last Friday.

It also refused to sanction formal blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples, something which the Pilling Report had recommended last November.

In response, LGB&TI Anglican Coalition said: “The new guidance emphasises the well-known fact that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Church of England churches even when equal marriage takes effect. Furthermore, despite the recommendation of the Pilling Report, the prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is reinforced.

“While these iron exclusions are in place it is simply ludicrous to speak of the Church ‘Welcoming’  lesbian, gay  bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGB&TI) people, or to pretend that this statement is in any sense ‘pastoral’.”

Ahead of the announcement the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that refusing to allow blessings for gay married couples could be seen as “akin to racism”.

The guidance also excludes people married to members of the same sex from ordination.

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition said this was “cruel and unjust to clergy who have faithfully served the Church”.

It added: “It will impoverish the ministry by driving away LGB&TI ordinands. Only those who are prepared to lie will remain.”

Claiming that the Church’s leadership had come under pressure from social conservative Anglicans in Africa, the group said: “We are aware that the position taken in this statement was partly or even mainly driven by fears about the unity of the Anglican Communion, and that bishops who wished to take a less harsh line were told that the Communion would not stand for it.

“In some large African provinces which are threatening to secede over this issue the Anglican Church helps supply the theology which backs the violent persecution of LGB&TI people. We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.”

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition concluded: “This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGB&TI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth.”