Same-sex Relationships

Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at on 16 November 2023.

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Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

What recent progress has been made on implementing the decisions taken by the General Synod in February 2023 on blessing same-sex relationships and relating to clergy in same-sex relationships.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

This week the General Synod agreed that the prayers of love and faith, and the pastoral guidance for their use, will be commended for use from mid-December, and also that special services of prayer and dedication using the prayers of love and faith can be authorised for a trial period before full synodical authorisation.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

I am sure the vast majority of Members on both sides of the House will warmly welcome the outcome of Synod yesterday, and I thank the hon. Member for the role he played in conveying Parliament’s views to Synod. It was very clear during the debate that there are a small number who will never, ever accept LGBT people as equals in their churches. As he knows, some parishes have stopped paying their diocesan share—effectively going on strike. Why should they continue to enjoy the benefits and privileges of being Church of England parishes?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The payments by parishes to dioceses, often known as common fund or parish share, are voluntary payments towards the cost of ministry in those parishes and in the wider Church. It is a matter for dioceses how they work with their parishes to encourage them to contribute, but I would certainly very strongly encourage every church to make a fair contribution to the costs of their ministry and, where they can, to help others in poorer areas.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons

I reinforce what Mr Bradshaw said about the general welcome in the House for the movement towards equality and fairness. We have had it on ordination; we now have it on same-sex relationships up to a point. Through my hon. Friend, I ask those who are disappointed with this movement forward to think of the pain that they have caused by resisting the change for so many people, whether by sex or orientation, over the past decades.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am grateful, as always, to the Father of the House for his wise reflections on these matters. He is right that this has been a difficult and painful period across the Church. I very much regret that, as he does. I hope we can move forward together in love, truth and unity on these matters.