The Church of England will not allow married gay men to become vicars, however strong their calling to the church, according to new guidelines.
Any man or woman wishing to be ordained, who has already married a same-sex partner, will be refused and clergy are banned from taking part in a gay marriage ceremonies, the guidance states.
If clergy decided to marry gay partners after they have already been ordained, they could face defrocking and an employment tribunal. The same will apply to clergy who perform "blessings" for gay couples wishing to mark their marriage.
The rules do not apply to civil partnerships, which the church accepts and several members of the clergy in England are in same-sex civil partnerships.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said in a letter to all clergy: “As members of the Body of Christ we are aware that there will be a range of responses across the Church of England to the introduction of same-sex marriage.
"We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged."
The guidance comes in sharp contrast to a speech on Thursday by Welby at the General Synod, where he warned the Church of England that rejecting LGBT people could be seen as “akin to racism”.
The church may find itself irrelevant “in a changing society" if it refuses to allow blessings for gay married couples, Welby said.
The guidance is a result of discussion of the controversial Piling report, which made many recommendations for the church’s approach to LGBT people, including allowing blessings for gay marriages, as a compromise between the pro and anti-gay marriage church factions.
Archbishop Welby said of the report’s recommendations: “There is great fear among some, here and round the world, that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word."
“There is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that many see akin to racism."
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, told the Times: “This week the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying that the Church of England’s treatment of homosexuals was perceived by some people as ‘akin to racism’. And now we have the Church making some of its own clergy into second-class citizens — introducing a kind of apartheid among them. It’s reputational suicide.”
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