A blessing in the absence of a religious marriage: the Church of England will allow priests to bless same-sex couples, a compromise that is causing a stir within the Anglican cult.
Strong image of the very unusual divisions which agitated the General Synod, the elected body responsible for deciding on questions of doctrine of the Church of England: its spiritual leader Justin Welby appeared on the verge of tears during the eight hours of debates spread over the two days that will have been necessary to reach a decision.
Its nearly 500 members finally voted on Thursday by a comfortable majority: 250 for, 181 against and 10 abstentions, in favor of these blessings.
If the motion adopted Thursday recognizes "the failure of the Church" concerning the reception of LGBT + people and "the evil that LGBT + people have suffered and still suffer in the life of the Church", it also confirms the ban. to solemnize religious marriages between persons of the same sex.
This decision is the result of six years of consultations, which have brought to light the fractures crossing the Anglican Church and its 85 million faithful, on this question.
If the Church of England appears generally more liberal on the attitude to adopt vis-à-vis the LGBT+ community, this is not the case for other Anglican churches, in particular in certain countries of sub-Saharan Africa where homosexuality is still considered a crime.
"The synod has now reached a result. I recognize that some will be deeply grateful and others will be hurt by it," the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said after the result was announced.
Even in England, the proposal submitted to the synod had aroused strong criticism, having notably targeted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in favor of this blessing.
"For the first time, the Church of England will welcome same-sex couples to church publicly, wholeheartedly and happily," he said after the vote in a joint statement with the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell.
A vote that makes "only losers"
Despite Thursday's vote, defenders of the LGBT + community remain unsatisfied.
Synod member and LGBT+ activist Jayne Ozanne, who abstained at the time of the vote, said she was "deeply disappointed" by the outcome of the debate. "We are sending a message that few people in the country will understand," she said on Twitter.
It is a vote that only makes "losers", reacted John Dunnett, of the very conservative Evangelical Council of the Church of England, opposed to this proposed blessing.
“Those who wanted more change will continue to demand and push for greater change...and those of us who wanted to stick to the historical teaching of the Church of England and the position of the majority of the Anglican Communion say things have gone too far," he added.
The Anglican Church is not the only Christian church to face tensions over this issue.
Within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has created controversy by adopting a relatively liberal position on homosexuality, judging that those who criminalize it are "wrong".
But he does not deviate from the line of Catholic teaching on marriage, defined as the union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation, and, in 2021, the Vatican had reaffirmed that it considered homosexuality as "a sin".
The Editorial Board (with AFP)