Marriage still cannot, but homosexual civil unions may now gain the blessing of the Anglican Church, the English matrix of one of the main Protestant branches in the world.
A glass half full, for those who have been waiting for an advance of LGBTQIA+ rights in Anglican temples, or half empty, in the view of those who fight for equal treatment to heterosexuals.
In a statement released on Thursday (9), the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the church of England says it “welcomes the decision with some caution”. The deliberation of the bishops, after all, does not allow people of the same sex to seal the marriage under the Anglican roof.
The conservative wing gave the ring to preserve the fingers, in the opinion of those who preferred to reverse the doctrine that authorizes the English Anglican clergy to conduct only marriages between a man and a woman.
Local archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell released a joint statement to celebrate what they see as a “new beginning” for the Anglican mother church.
“The church continues to have deep disagreements over these issues that strike at the very core of our human identity. As archbishops, we are committed to respecting the consciences of those for whom this goes too far and ensuring that they have all the necessary guarantees to maintain the unity of the Church. church while this conversation continues.”
The change in attitude was taken during the synod of English Anglicanism, which is a periodic assembly to dispute structural issues of the denomination. This particular debate went on for over eight hours.
Bishops, clergymen below them, and also lay people (who are not part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, but participate in church activities) were able to vote. Of those present, 250 (58%) supported the proposal to bless the civil marriage of homosexuals, and 181 (42%) voted against it.
What Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, described as “a moment of hope” met with a far more frosty reception from the Church of England’s Evangelical Council. The organization said it was “deeply saddened” by the review, which, in its view, rejected the “historical and biblical understanding of sex and marriage”.
It is important not to mistake the English portion for the Anglican whole. In other countries, this branch of historical Protestantism already performs gay marriage without major doctrinal squeamishness. The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has been doing so since 2018, after more than two decades of intense debate, says Reverend Arthur Cavalcante, dean (parson) of the Anglican Cathedral of Santíssima Trindade São Paulo.
Cavalcante was even disciplined by the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife, in 2003, for coming out as gay. He ended up welcomed in the capital of São Paulo, where five years ago he celebrated his first LGBTQIA + marriage, with dentists Erika and Allana.
The reverend points out that, in addition to the endorsement to bless gay couples, the so-called Church of England also approved in the synod the issuance of apologies for the way in which it treated the LGBTQIA + community, for so many years marginalized.
Another point raised by the Anglican assembly, capable of shaking the foundations of the denomination: the use of neutral pronouns, as if to avoid the masculine to refer to God. But there are still no deliberations in this respect.
In a statement, the Anglican Church said that since ancient times Christians have been aware that “God is neither male nor female”. Now they debate whether this should be reflected in the language applied to speak of Christianity’s greatest deity.
This discussion is still very preliminary, and the church has gone on to clarify that “there are absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorized liturgies, and none of these changes could be made without extensive legislation.”
In Brazil, the church opted for a more inclusive language in 2015, according to Reverend Cavalcante.
A practical reflection: before, the rites of marriage included asking the blessing of that man and that woman to make the union concrete in the eyes of God. “That was outdated, now we’re talking about people.”
The word God, according to him, “has not been changed in our liturgies”, but the reference will not necessarily be male or female. “There is no doubt that for many years, due to issues involving patriarchal cultures, God was male, and this has been questioned. Hence, in many of our prayers, there will be phrases that refer to the feminine side. In any case, for us, the faithful Anglicans, God is much bigger than our little boxes.”
A prayer read by Anglicans in Brazil, for example, speaks of “Maternal Father”. For the Brazilian, theologically, God goes far beyond the binary categories of gender. “For Anglicans, God is father and mother.”
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