Church of England rejects lifting opposition to same-sex marriage

London, Jan 28 (IANS) The Church of England, in a report, has rejected the idea of changing its opposition to same-sex marriage, despite saying that it needs to “repent on the homophobic attitudes” it has previously had.

The report, entitled “Marriage and Same Sex Relationships After the Shared Conversations”, from the House of Bishops on Friday said the Church should adopt a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for gay people.

It said guidance in marriage should be interpreted in a way that provides “maximum freedom” for homosexuals, reported the Independent.

New teachings on marriage and relationships should also be drawn up to replace those introduced in the 1990s, it suggested.

Maintaining its opposition to same-sex marriage, the House of Bishops said that there is “little support for changing the Church of England’s teaching on marriage” that it is between one man and one woman.

The Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said at a press conference that the church should not “adapt its doctrine to the fashions of any particular time”.

“We hope the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some,” said Rev. James, who will present the document to the General Synod on February 15.

“This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same-sex relationships within the church, and within the house of bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture.”

The report also said there was “some support” in the House for the new document, including “penitence for the treatment some lesbian and gay people have received at the hands of the Church”.

Sex between two men over 21 and “in private”, in England and Wales, was legalised in 1967. The age of consent was lowered to 16 in 2000.

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed for England and Wales in 2013 and came into force the following year.

The same House of Bishops report has been criticised for adopting a “don’t ask, don’t tell” stance on gay clergy — a reference to the former US military policy.

It said that singling out the personal sexual conduct of gay applicants was “pastorally unhelpful”.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement charity said, in an open letter: “You are proposing to formalise Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell among clergy in same-sex relationships.”

Its chief executive Tracey Bryne said: “Collectively they’ve failed to deliver.”