A change from the Anglican Communion on its statement around same-sex marriage issues has been welcomed by a group which represents LGBT members within the Church of Ireland.
Ahead of the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference – the first in Canterbury for 14 years – organisers scrapped a statement that reaffirmed the conference’s historic stance against same-sex marriage, BBC NI reports.
The original 'call’ intended to go before 650 bishops for approval defined marriage as “between a man and a woman” and said the “legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions” cannot be advised.
However, just hours before the 12-day meeting was to take place, that statement was amended following backlash from LGBT affirming members in Anglican congregations around the world.
The revised statement instead says that “many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible” and said the "Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the "legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions" cannot be advised.
It added: “Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception.”
The Church of Ireland and the Church of England do not currently allow same-sex marriage, however those within the LGBT community can be members.
The Church of Ireland said their bishops would attend and fully take part in the conference, which began on Tuesday.
While they welcomed the change, the group told BBC NI there were questions around "who originally drafted such a call and on what basis".
"The Church of Ireland House of Bishops' silence on this extremely unsettling matter, in contrast to many other Anglican Churches throughout the world, is particularly disturbing,” they added.
"It could be asked whether they are hoping that by avoiding the topic of LGBT+ inclusion, the issue will magically disappear.
"We call on the Church of Ireland, and its House of Bishops, to now engage with us on the issue of welcome and equal inclusion for its LGBT+ members."
The Anglican Communion includes an estimated 85 million members spread across 41 provinces, including The Episcopal Church in the United States.
Bishop of Los Angeles John Harvey Taylor was among the critics of the original call, as were clergy in Wales, who voted last year to bless same-sex marriages.
Earlier this week bishops of the Church in Wales said the original draft text “undermines and subverts the dignity of an integral part of our community, rather than affirming them.”
They added: “Recognising that some provinces will want to affirm the historic understanding of marriage, we wish to assure our LGBT+ sisters and brothers in Christ that we will work to amend this passage to reflect more adequately our understanding of their equal place in the Church”.
The Lambeth Conference is convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury typically once every decade, but had previously been postponed due to the pandemic.
This year’s conference will be the first to be led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.