.- The Church of England has drafted a new proposal that will allow homosexual priests to marry their partners, but they must abstain from sexual relations. The proposal was drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishops’ proposal follows the legalization of same-sex unions in Britain, effective Dec. 5. The bishops felt the new law left them little choice but to accept the right of homosexual clergy to have civil partners.
The new law gives same-sex couples many of the same tax and inheritance advantages of married couples.
The bishops’ proposal is likely to reopen the rift over homosexuality that has split the worldwide Anglican Communion. The effects of this decision on the newly reopened dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans is also yet unknown.
Some amendments may be made to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, before it is presented to the House of Bishops.
Some Anglican priests have already expressed their intention to register a civil partnership.
Under the proposal, a priest intending to register a civil partnership would inform his or her bishop in a face-to-face meeting. The priest would then give an undertaking to uphold the teaching of the Church of England, outlined in the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality, which prohibits sex for homosexual clergy.
The proposal does not indicate any disciplinary action for priests who breach of the rules.