Cumbrian bishops ‘cannot comment’ on same-sex marriage decision

THE Bishops of Carlisle and Penrith ‘feel they cannot comment further at this stage’ after the Bishop of Oxford said the Church of England should allow same-sex marriage.

The Very Reverend Dr Steven Croft has become the first senior Church of England bishop to publicly ask the Church to bless and solemnize same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage has long been a contentious issue within the church, with conservative church members opposing the introduction of the practice.

In 2017, the Church of England launched the Living in Love and Faith project to explore the place of gender identity and marriage in the Church.

Reverend Canon Cameron Butland, leader of the Living in Love and Faith Facilitation Team for the Diocese of Carlisle, said: “The Diocese of Carlisle is engaged with all other Church of England dioceses to explore issues of gender, marriage, sexuality and relationships under the heading ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF).

“Each clergy and deanery has been provided with copies of the Church of England LLF Central Materials Book for local use, as well as directions to comprehensive online resources to help encourage and facilitate conversations.

“The Diocesan LLF Facilitation Team also led a number of presentations to the Deanery to further encourage and support engagement and feedback in the national process.

“This now sees the matter referred to the College of Bishops for further discussion and discernment as to next steps.

“Indeed, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev Rob Saner-Haigh, have just returned from the last such talks.

“Naturally there will be a wide range of opinions among the bishops and it is essential that all are respected and listened to carefully.

“As the discernment process has not yet been completed, Bishop James and Bishop Rob feel they cannot comment further at this stage.”

The College of Bishops will present its findings to the General Synod in February – which could lead to a historic vote on whether the church should officiate same-sex marriages.

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