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Bishops ask for ‘further work’ on same-sex blessings to protect clergy consciences

22 May 2023

iStock

THE House of Bishops has requested “further work” from the groups charged with implementing pastoral measures surrounding the introduction of blessings for same-sex couples.

The bishops met in York last week to discuss the work done by the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) implementation groups, membership of which was release at the start of May (News, 3 May)

The groups have been charged with developing new pastoral guidance for clergy and LLMs, as well as refining the content and usage of the Prayers for Love and Faith agreed at February’s meeting of the General Synod (News, 9 February).

In a statement on Friday, the House of Bishops reasserted that none of the proposals taken forward to the July meeting of Synod would “change the Church’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony” — a charge that has been made by conservative groups around the world — and that “the texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith will be voluntary, with freedom of choice about their use.”

The statement says that the bishops have “provided further steers for the implementation groups to shape their work”, and that they are “requesting further work around key subjects which will shape the new pastoral guidance.

“They are also asking for specific proposals to be developed that will ensure that those who offer the Prayers of Love and Faith, and those who don’t, are respected, supported and protected, recognising they are made out of theological conviction.”

The groups, which comprise bishops and non-episcopal consultants, have been meeting virtually to discuss their particular areas of focus, and are due to have an in-person meeting this Thursday.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, are co-chairs of the team co-ordinating the implementation groups.

“The House of Bishops had a very constructive meeting in York this week and it has been pleasing to see how much progress has been made by the implementation groups even in a short time,” they said in the statement.

“We look forward to further proposals being developed. It is important to take the time we need to get this right however there is a strong sense of progress in implementing what Synod agreed.”

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