MORE than 1100 licensed priests in the Church of England have indicated that they are willing to conduct same-sex marriages if they become legal.
The survey was conducted by the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England over the course of the last month. In a statement announcing the results, the chairman of the organisation, the Revd Nigel Pietroni, said: “It is clear from the feedback after Living in Love and Faith that the majority want the current situation to change.”
The list of signatories is being kept private, but the names were cross-checked against clergy databases, and only those who are currently licensed were counted.
According to the Campaign for Equal Marriage, every diocese was represented among the signatories, who ranged in experience from assistant curates to bishops.
Mr Pietroni continued: “There can be no more delay. We look to the bishops to allow freedom of conscience for clergy who wish to bless same sex couples, and for clergy married to their same sex partners to serve in ministry. The bishops must give a clear message that marriage equality will follow.”
The Campaign for Equal Marriage was one of the organisations that met bishops belonging to the LLF Next Steps Group earlier this month (News, 5 October). After the meeting, Mr Pietroni said that the Campaign for Equal Marriage was “looking for a roadmap for how we get to equal marriage”, but acknowledged that provision for blessings could be a staging post in this journey.
Conservative groups, however, have urged the bishops not to introduce any changes to the existing ban on same-sex marriage in church (News, 19 October). The director of strategy and operations for the Church of England Evangelical Council, Canon John Dunnett, told the Church Times: “If the General Synod embrace change in the Church’s doctrine and liturgical practice, we will have to contend against that, because we think that’s asking us to accept things that scripture says we can’t accept.”