Church in Wales to vote on blessing gay marriages, a year before Church of England
The Church in Wales is set to vote in fewer than two weeks on whether same-sex couples should receive blessings for the first time, before the Church in England takes a similar decision next year.
The church’s governing body will make a decision at a meeting on 6 September whether to introduce blessings “experimentally” for five years. Individual members of the clergy would have an opt-out.
The Church of England will discuss the matter at the General Synod in 2022.
Former Archbishop John Davies said earlier this month that it would be a “slap in the face” if the church does not consider blessings for same-sex couples.
Bishops at the Church of Wales have set out an explanatory memorandum explaining the significance of the rite, and said that it could pave the way for same-sex church weddings.
“Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the church by asking God’s blessing upon their commitment,” they said.
They added that it would be a “step on the way towards repentance of a history in the church which has demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people, forcing them into fear, dishonesty and sometimes even hypocrisy, and which has precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership”.
Ex-Archbishop of Wales John Davies said that although service of blessing would stop short of a full marriage ceremony, it would be wrong for the church not to consider changing the rules.
In an interview with Adrian Masters for Face to Face on ITV Cymru Wales, the former Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, who became Archbishop of Wales in 2017, said: “It’s an issue that’s been facing the church for a very long time.
“And it’s been facing the church because everybody’s understanding of the dynamics of human relationships, human love, human sexuality, human psychology and so on have grown.
“Simply to say that because it’s always been so it must never change I think is a slap in the face to an awful lot of people who see something valuable in the church, but to some extent still feel rejected by the church.”
The Archbishop of Wales’ position is currently vacant.