LONDON (Christian Examiner) – A group of clergy in the Church of England have announced they will soon go public with declarations that they are gay and married in defiance of the church's stance on same-sex marriage, The Guardian has reported.
According to the paper, around one dozen clergy will put their aspirations for change in the church into an open letter. In particular, they want the church to develop a blessing for same-sex weddings and to stop referring to homosexual marriage as sinful.
The group is being led by Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who was dismissed from his post as vicar of his church when he announced his marriage to his partner, who is an atheist, in 2014 – just after same-sex marriage was legalized in England and Wales.
Still, Foreshew-Cain was elected to the church's General Synod last October over the objection of conservatives in the church.
He told the paper that an increasing number of clergy in the church are involved in same-sex marriages which are "legal, celebrated and widely accepted in society."
"Yet the Church of England behaves as if they are somehow dirty and imposes penalties on clergy and refuses to acknowledge the marriages of those who wish to make lifelong faithful commitments," he said. "This has to stop and the element of fear and hypocrisy around our marriages has to end."
The Church of England, as well as the Worldwide Anglican Communion, has been gripped by controversy over the past several years as the movement to create room for same-sex marriage in the church has grown in England. Most Anglican churches, especially those in Africa, still soundly reject the practice.
The church has, however, engaged in "shared conversations" for the past two years, in which churchmen listen to the reasons members of the homosexual community believe it should change its doctrinal standards. Those conversations, the church's spokesman said, were helpful, but he provided no indication of the possibility of a forthcoming change.
According to canon law, the Church of England cannot carry out or bless homosexual marriages.
Foreshew-Cain said he and his group are not asking the church to change its doctrinal stance, but merely to demonstrate openness and acceptance of members of the LGBT community.