Defying the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York and those leaders who want the word “marriage” reserved for the church’s sacrament, Church of England bishops, clergy and laity are speaking out for all who wish to be married.
The Telegraph reports Bishop Nicholas Holtam’s statement that “church opposition to equal marriage is a ‘disaster.'”
The Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, compared bishops opposing marriage reforms to 18th century Christians who believed slavery was “God-given”.
His intervention will be seen as an attack on traditionalists, including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who forcefully oppose the Government’s move to change the legal definition of marriage.
It comes as the Church prepares its formal response to David Cameron’s proposals to permit marriage between same-sex couples, before the close of the Government’s consultation in June.
Speaking on Saturday at a conference in London on homophobia in the Church, Bishop Holtam said: “Experience might lead us to be cautious about the certainty with which moral positions are built with Biblical support.
“Before Wilberforce, Christians in this country saw slavery as having Biblical support for what was the God-given in the ordering of creation.
“Most people now see the Church’s avoidance of equality legislation as immoral and it undermines us,” he told the conference, organised by the Cutting Edge Consortium, a coalition of national bodies campaigning for sexual equality in religious organisations.
The bishop added: “It is a disaster that we have allowed the Church to be seen as the opposition to equal marriage.”
Holtham’s speech is available at Thinking Anglicans.
In The Times (as reported by Pink News), Bishop Alan Wilson, the Rev. Canon Giles Fraser and other church leaders write that marriage equality should be a “cause for rejoicing:”
It is our belief that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples. It will be for the churches to then decide how they should respond pastorally to such a change in the law.
Canon Giles Goddard, General Synod, Southwark
The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
The Rt Rev Michael Doe
The Rt Rev John Gladwin
The Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth
The Rt Rev Peter Selby
The Rt Rev David Stancliffe
The Very Rev David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth
The Very Rev Graham Smith, Dean of Norwich
The Very Rev Victor Stock, Dean of Guildford
Mrs April Alexander, General Synod, Southwark
The Rev Stephen Coles, General Synod, London
The Rev Clair Herbert, General Synod, London
Mr John Ward LLB, General Synod, London
h/t to Susan Russell