Gay Norfolk priest says his sexuality is ‘God-given’ after new twist in Church of England same-sex marriage saga
- Credit: PA
A gay Norfolk priest has spoken about the 'discipline and sacrifice' of choosing celibacy in the wake of the latest twist in the same-sex marriage saga that is dividing the Church.
The minister, who asked to remain anonymous, gave his views after the Church of England's ruling body voted to reject a controversial report on the issue.
The report by the House of Bishops, presented to the General Synod on Wednesday, had called for the Church to adopt a 'fresh tone and culture of welcome and support' for gay people.But it said it should not change its opposition to same-sex marriage and such unions should not be blessed.
More than 400 Church leaders gathered for a 'take note' debate on the issue at Church Hall in Westminster, where they voted to symbolically reject the recommendations.
The Norfolk priest, who has chosen to remain celibate in order to stay in line with current CofE teaching, said the Synod debate was 'conducted with courage and grace' and 'bodes well for the future'.
He said: 'As a priest (who happens also to be gay) I have never wanted to become a campaigner, but faithfully seek to serve God and to try and be a blessing to Him and those I serve in my ministry.
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'To be a priest and a Christian is a real joy but it also requires some discipline and sacrifice. A priest is called to be faithful to the Church and its teachings and doctrines and that I have always sought to do.'
He added: 'Lots of people know I am gay, but first and foremost I think I am known for being a fine priest. That is really important to me because it's about my witness to God in the world.
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'I do also believe that being gay is God-given and because I have come to terms with that, it makes me confident about the person I am and the person who God loves unconditionally.'
He said the discussions over the last few days had been 'challenging and difficult for many', but added: 'I am proud to belong to a Church that seeks to discover the will of God for the Church on these issues.'
The report needed to gain a majority in the House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity to be approved.
A total of 242 votes were cast in favour across the three houses, with 184 against, while six people abstained.
But some 100 members of the House of Clergy voted against - compared with 93 who voted in favour and two who abstained.
The vote is not a formal rejection of the proposals but the views aired will be used to inform future work by the House of Bishops.