Bishop: Colleagues refuse to be in the same room as me for supporting same-sex marriage

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A high profile Bishop has said colleagues who disagree with his pro same-sex marriage views refuse to be in the same room as him.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev Paul Bayes, says that anti marriage equality colleagues “cannot in conscience remain in the same room as me, or work with me.”

His comments come after the Church of England re-affirmed its opposition to marriage equality.

A new document from the House of Bishops says the Church should adopt a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for gay people.

It calls for a the Church’s guidance on gay and lesbian clergy “to provide maximum freedom” – but will not support marriage equality.

Rt Rev Paul Bayes wrote in a blog post: “My own experience, since I began speaking out for the beginnings of change in the Church, is that I am profoundly suspected by many who disagree with me and that indeed some of them cannot in conscience remain in the same room as me, or work with me.

“This has not made me change my mind, but it does help me to understand still further what it is to be a bishop, a bastard bishop, in the Church today.”

Rev Bayes, who says meeting LGBT people changed his mind in favour of same-sex marriages, has called for change on the church’s policy.

He welcomed the report more broadly.

“I believe that the suggestions in the report, insufficient as they are, are nonetheless necessary; that they will help LGBT people in the church, will make a church less toxic than the one we have now,” he wrote.

The House of Bishops’ report made few concrete suggestions on ways it will improve the organisation for LGBT members.

However the Church does look set to relax its rules on individual clergy celebrating civil partnership or same-sex marriages of gay churchgoers.

Asked if clergy would be reprimanded for blessing a same-sex marriages, Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willesden said that “individual cases will be treated individually”, refusing to say they should expect sanctions.

The new document also affirms that informal prayers for churchgoers in same-sex relationships will permitted.

The new document calls for “new guidance to be prepared about the kind of questions put to candidates for ordination – irrespective of their sexuality – about their lifestyle”.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement expressed its disappointment at the report, which comes after several years of tensions within the church, for failing to go far enough.

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of LGCM, said, “To echo Una Kroll’s words, we asked for bread and we’ve been given stones. LGBTI+ people who have participated in this process in good faith, at considerable personal cost, will feel angry and disappointed that there appears so little real change.”