Gay marriage report ordered by Church in Wales

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Media captionThe Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan discusses gay marriage and women bishops

The Church in Wales has ordered a report on same sex relationships, the Archbishop of Wales has said.

Dr Barry Morgan told the church's governing body the report would help "map out the way ahead for us".

He also said the church needed to take a view on proposed legal status banning it from same sex marriages.

"We, as a church, need to have a discussion as to whether we want to continue having this special status in law as far as marriage is concerned."

Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in the UK, but Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly backed it and the issue has been debated in the House of Commons.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-13 was backed by a majority of 225 MPs following a free vote in December.

The UK government said the Church of England and Church in Wales would be banned in law from offering same sex marriages.

But the Archbishop said at the time that the Church in Wales had not been consulted over the question of a ban, and wanted the freedom to make its own decision.

Dr Morgan told the Church's governing body in Lampeter on Thursday: "If marriage were ever to become a devolved issue, I cannot see a devolved Welsh government allowing a disestablished church to hang on to this vestige of establishment.

"In any case, we ourselves might want to change the present arrangements."

'Variety of views'

The Archbishop added: "There has been a growth in understanding of same sex relationships in wider society in recent years and a more comprehensive understanding of human sexuality in general.

"Within the Church in Wales, as the bishops have pointed out, there are a variety of views about the ethics of same sex relationships.

"There is a new appreciation of the value of any faithful committed life-long relationship.

"The new Archbishop of Canterbury observed recently that 'it would be completely absurd to suggest that the love expressed in gay relationships was less than the love that there is between straight couples'.

"The bishops have therefore asked the Doctrinal Commission to examine the whole issue of same sex relationships, and once it has produced its report, we will need to have a general discussion, perhaps in groups in the first instance, in this governing body to map out the way ahead for us as a church."

Dr Morgan was speaking as president of the Church in Wales' governing body at a two-day event in Lampeter.

The conference has also heard how the ordination of women priests as bishops is back on the church's agenda, five years after a move to introduce it was lost by just three votes.

The issue resurfaced last year when the Bench of Bishops drew up a discussion paper confirming their unanimous support for women bishops.

The Church aims to draft a new bill to be put to a vote in September.

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