Catholic World News News Feature
Anglican Clergy Told to Support Same-Sex Couples May 01, 2003
Anglican clergy are being told to give as much support to gay couples as they do to people preparing for church weddings.
A new report-- Church Support of Marriage and Adult Relationships in Southern England-- says that while clergy should include more support to newly-married couples, they should also be helping those "non-married adult relationships" such as lone parents and cohabiting heterosexual and homosexual couples.
The report, commissioned by the Anglican Bishop John Gladwin of Guildford, says that contemporary changes to family structure and society were challenging traditional church beliefs.
It claims the churches should address their "weakness in attracting and involving those whose adult relationships are not lived as a married couple."
Bishop Gladwin told the London Times , "Considering that Jesus was single and among his most intimate friends were people in all kinds of relationships, some quite dubious, it is clear we are failing to pattern our ministry on this."
He added, "Being pro-marriage does not mean being anti-gay or anti other choices people have made today."
Researchers surveyed 400 churches and found that some marriage preparation amounted to little more than one or two meetings between a minister and the couple. In other cases, it was more intensive.
In 2000, 36 percent of all marriages took place in churches, down from 60 percent in 1971.
The report said that the Church of England must work out how it could become more attractive and relevant to couples wanting to tie the knot in an increasingly competitive "marriage market." It suggested that marriage preparation and pastoral care could be the "competitive advantage" that churches had over secular organizations.