National Catholic Reporter

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Church of England's bishops defer same-sex marriage decision

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CANTERBURY, ENGLAND -- With little more than two months to go before Britain’s first same-sex marriage, the College of Bishops issued a statement saying that “no change” to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisioned.

The statement came after an all-day meeting at Church House in central London Monday (Jan. 27) attended by 90 bishops and eight women participant observers.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the recommendations of the Pilling Report on human sexuality that was published in 2013. That report was the result of a recommendation made by church leaders at the end of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 that Anglicans should embark on a discussion process to help heal the rift on the subject of full rights for Christian homosexuals.

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“The House of Bishops will be meeting again next month to consider its approach when same sex marriage becomes lawful in England and Wales,” the statement reads.

Polls here show 50 to 60 percent of the population in England and Wales supports gay marriage. The Scottish Parliament has approved in principle legislation to introduce same-sex marriage.

The bishops met in the shadow of the recent passage of anti-gay legislation in African countries with two of that continent’s largest Anglican churches — Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, with 169 million people, and Uganda.

Most African countries have made homosexuality illegal, including countries that rely heavily on Western aid and tourists.

Meanwhile, a column by The Guardian newspaper’s Andrew Brown said Sunday that although there is a small but determined faction within the Church of England that thinks same-sex marriages defy biblical teachings, “there will be clergy queueing to marry their same-sex partners when this becomes legal in April, when the question can no longer be dodged.”

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