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Bishops’ letter over government’s gay marriage consultation

15:45 27 April 2012

Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, during a rededication of St Andrews church, Lowestoft.

Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, during a rededication of St Andrews church, Lowestoft.

Archant © 2011

Three Anglican bishops have written to their congregations about their views on the issue of gay marriage.

The letter was sent from the Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Alan Winton, Bishop of Thetford, and the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, Bishop of Lynn.

It was written on behalf of the Diocese of Norwich to its clergy on Thursday.

The government launched its 12-week consultation on allowing gay couples in England and Wales to marry in a register office or other civil ceremony last month. It will close on June 14.

Part of the letter from the bishops said: “The consultation document says very little about marriage itself and does not seek to define it.

“Nevertheless, it does speak of civil marriage and religious marriage as if these are two entirely separate concepts.”

It went on to say that “an unhealthy and damaging division” between civil and religious marriages could be created because of the Church of England’s lack of provision to marry same sex couples.

On Monday, the EDP reported that the Dean of Norwich had urged the Church of England not block its ears and close its eyes over the government’s proposal.

The Very Rev Graham Smith was among clergy who signed a letter in a national newspaper on Saturday which said the Church should “rejoice” at the prospect of gay marriage.

The bishops’ letter added: “We believe this consultation is too narrowly focused and too predetermined to animate the sort of public debate about the nature of marriage which our society needs.”

But it said there seemed to be a good deal of confusion surrounding marriage itself.

The bishops believed it was important to avoid “ill-considered reactions” to the government’s proposals.

“It is surely to the benefit of the whole of our society if gay people live in faithful, stable and publicly recognised relationships. Indeed, some gay relationships are a model of faithfulness compared with the serial monogamy so prevalent among hetrosexual people,” the letter said.

To view the full letter from the three bishops visit

The government’s consultation document can be viewed by visiting

Related articles


  • Civil partnership and marriage are not the same and I personally do not agree with the notion of same gender couples being allowed to marry. Marriage is meant for the intention of procreation. Biologically, this is not possibly in same gender couples, any more than men wishing to give birth. If we are to advance this argument, then we may as well abolish the "mothers" and "fathers" and replace with a generic "parents" label. Likewise, who is an aunt, but would prefer to be called uncle and vice versa?

    Report this comment


    Friday, April 27, 2012

  • i agree Elton John has always made me feel ill as well--before during and after his 2 marriages.

    Report this comment


    Sunday, April 29, 2012

  • Heterosexual couples should be allowed to marry even if they do not or cannot have children. Biologically, the only way to procreate involves a man and a woman. Marriage has a unique definition and this should rightly remain as it is now - for a man and woman whose biological organs are intended for procreation, even if they can't have children, which is a separate issue from the obvious point as to why homosexuals can't procreate with each other. Besides, homosexual couples have civil partnership, something not available to heterosexual couples. Of course, any couple should be allowed to take up with whoever they live. I have no interest in what *anyone* does in bed and with whom. However, I do not agree with homosexual people marrying, when they have civil partnership any more than I wish for females to stand next to males to urinate in a public lavatory.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

  • So Musto_Fan, does that mean that couples that cannot or choose not to procreate should not be allowed to marry either? It is biologically not possible for a huge number of couples to have children regardless of their gender but I don't see that it has anything to do with marriage. What is you reasoning behind aboloshing "father" and "mother"? Surely a child with two male parents would have 2 fathers - many, many people bring up their children alone for whatever reason and as such, their children may only have a mother OR a father and not both. To me, mariage is about love, commitment and wanting to celebrate this. I don't see how anybody's gender has anything to do with it.

    Report this comment


    Monday, April 30, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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