Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Church of England: More than 50 priests have 'married' same-sex partners

by Christopher Morgan
The Sunday Times
December 31, 2006

THE Church of England is facing a new rift over homosexual clergy with the disclosure that more than 50 gay or lesbian priests have "married" in civil partnership ceremonies.

Traditionalists and evangelicals opposed to gay clerics said this weekend they would force open debate of the issue at February's meeting of the General Synod. Campaigners have criticised bishops for shying away from enforcing the church's policy of ensuring gay clergy are celibate before they are given authorisation to enter civil partnerships.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is also likely to face criticism from primates of the Anglican communion at a meeting in Tanzania in February. The summit was called to mend splits caused by the ordination of Gene Robinson, a gay bishop, in America in 2003.

The figures on clerical civil partnerships come from Changing Attitude, a gay campaigning organisation in the Church of England. The figures show that at least 51 priests, including four lesbians, are now in partnerships. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, said: "Civil partnerships have helped to increase the stability of same-sex relationships and reduced the social exclusion to which lesbian and gay people are often subjected."

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