Belfast Telegraph

Primate wants gay debate to be shelved

By Alf McCreary

The Archbishop of Armagh has called for a clampdown on the debate over gay clergy in the Church of Ireland.

Archbishop Alan Harper has asked the influential standing committee to "curtail discussion" on the subject until bishops are ready to take the issue forward.

His comments follow the revelation that the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Rev Tom Gordon, entered into a civil partnership with his companion of 20 years in July.

In a statement yesterday, the primate said bishops had already planned to consider "same gender relationships" this autumn in the light of civil partnership legislation in Ireland north and south.

He said that reactions to the new controversy had made their work more urgent.

He added: "I am therefore requesting that general discussion of these matters in the standing committee should be curtailed to enable the bishops to begin their discussion."

The archbishop said the Church had no plans to provide Church blessings for gay couples, but added that "as fellow human beings, homosexual people are entitled to be accorded the same respect and dignity as others".

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