The Bishop of Oxford has received support from other senior figures in the Church of England, after publicly calling for the church to bless and conduct same-sex marriages.

Yesterday, Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft became the first serving senior bishop in the Church of England — out of the two archbishops and 35 serving diocesan bishops — to publicly and explicitly call for the church to bless and conduct same-sex marriages.

The Bishop has published a 52-page essay setting out how his own views on same-sex relationships have changed during the decade.

READ MORE: Bishop of Oxford says Church of England should be able to bless and marry same-sex couples

In the essay, entitled Together in Love and Faith, the Bishop reflects on the changes in society and the Church in the last ten years.

Since Dr Croft’s call for change in the church, two more senior figures have backed him and also called for change.

The Rt Rev Dr John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, a diocesan bishop, and the Rt Rev Martin Gorick, the Bishop of Dudley, a more junior suffragan bishop, have now publicly backed him.

The pair wrote in a letter: “We believe that the time has come for the church to honour and celebrate same-sex relations. Our preferred option would be for same-sex couples to be able to marry in church.”

Yesterday, Dr Croft said: “I need to acknowledge the acute pain and distress of LGBTQ+ people in the life of the Church.

“I am sorry that, corporately, we have been so slow as a Church to reach better decisions and practice on these matters.

“I am sorry that my own views were slow to change and that my actions, and lack of action, have caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain.”

The Bishop believes it is time to enable local churches and clergy to offer public services of blessing for same-sex relationships and remove the legal barriers to the solemnisation of same-sex marriage in the Church of England.

He feels clergy should also be given the freedom to marry a same-sex partner.  

In his essay, Dr Croft also examines and reflects on the views of Christians who hold a traditional view of marriage, believing this should be honoured and respected by people seeking change. 

He added: “Any settlement must be founded on love and respect: love and respect for LGBTQ+ people and their families within and beyond the Church, love and respect for those who take different views... This love must be the hallmark of our debates and conduct through this season”.

A few more junior suffragan bishops, including the bishops of Buckingham and Crediton, have suggested that they would back same-sex marriage.

The former bishops of Liverpool and Salisbury, Paul Bayes and Nicholas Holtham, both now retired, also backed same-sex marriage.


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

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