Same-sex marriage ‘not on the horizon’
SAME-SEX marriages in the Church of England are ‘nowhere on the horizon,’ according to Mr William Fittall, Secretary General of General Synod, who gave evidence to MPs during the Committee stage of the Marriage Bill.
Mr Fittall told the MPs that he did not detect a move to support same-sex marriage among the bishops. He conceded it would be possible for General Synod to pass legislation allowing clergy to conduct same-sex marriage but said this was ‘nowhere on the horizon’. He said he was satisfied by the protections offered to the Church by the ‘quadruple lock’.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said that there was a distinction between the doctrine of the Church of England and what individual members think. He conceded that there was no ‘unanimity of view’ on the subject within the Church.
This lack of unanimity was demonstrated when the Dean of St Albans, the Ver y Rev Jeffrey John, appeared before the Committee. He said it was regrettable that the Church felt the need for triple or quadruple locks and expressed his worries about the harm done to the image of the Church on this issue. “God is infinitely more compassionate and positive about gay people than the Church,” he said.
However he also stated that he would not want the Church to be forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. “It is up to people like me to help it move to a more Christian position,” he said.
A group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling is looking at the Church’s attitude to sexuality. Bishop James conceded that this might recommend changes but added that this would not necessarily lead to the approval of same-sex marriage.