The Church of England has revealed plans to discuss ending celibacy rules for gay vicars.
As it currently stands, clergy are allowed to be openly gay and even be in civil partnerships, but must make a solemn vow to abstain from sex.
The Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council uses the 1991 House of Bishops’ Statement Issues in Human Sexuality as the document which guides policy.
It reads: ‘We have, therefore, to say that in our considered judgement the clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships.’
‘The Church cannot accept such parity [with marriage] and remain faithful to the insights which God has given it through Scripture, tradition and reasoned reflection on experience,’ it continues.
LGBTI Anglican organization, Changing Attitude, says: ‘If a priest says he or she is in an active sexual relationship the only action a bishop could take would be a charge of “conduct unbecoming” under the Clergy Discipline Measure.’
This means that technically, clergy could be subject to discipline if found out to be in sexually active relationships.
But Changing Attitudes says: ‘many bishops, in private, know some of their partnered lesbian and gay clergy, and affirm their relationships.’
— Changing Attitude (@changingatt) 18 November 2016
The proposed changes would see clergy not have to make formal solemn vows, but still be required to abstain from sexual activity on grounds of their own conscience.
But one senior Conservative told the Daily Mail: ‘This is a slippery slope.’
‘I fear the next step will be gay marriage,’ they said.
The controversial proposal will be brought to the General Synod – the governing body of the church – in the new year.