The institution also acknowledged the “huge damage and hurt” it had inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community.
In a new 480-page document, titled Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England has set out plans to reconsider the way that it approaches same-sex relationships in 2022.
Currently, the Church of England refuses to conduct or bless same-sex marriages, and demands that LGBTQ+ members of the clergy must remain celibate.
In the foreword of the book, senior members of the Church acknowledged the hurt that it had inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community, writing: “We have caused, and continue to cause, hurt and unnecessary suffering.
“For such acts, each of us, and the church collectively, should be deeply ashamed and repentant.”
LGBTQ+ members of the Church of England gave testimony to the resource, with one gay man explaining that he was told to find “a good woman and get married” while a lesbian was told that she was to remain celibate.
The Church will now spend two years drafting proposals for members of the synod to consider in 2022, with the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, saying that allowing same-sex marriage would be “one question among many” that would be considered. He added that some bishops believed the “doctrine of marriage is ripe for development.”
Although the move was welcomed by some, the lack of immediate action was not welcomed by LGBTQ+ activists. On Twitter, one person wrote: “Don’t rush yourselves in debating our existence now will you.”
And another added: “Omg can’t wait til 2022 when they decide if they are going to treat me with respect.”
Jayne Ozanne, a gay Anglican and director of the Ozanne Foundation which supports LGBTQ+ Christians around the world, said in a statement that she welcomed the resource, saying: “Whether the resource delivers this promise has yet to be seen, however it is a necessary step in the arduous journey to the Church understanding that ‘love is love.’
She added: “It is hard to understand why a document that recognises the harm caused by some Church teaching does not learn from this and immediately implement urgent changes.”
Earlier this year, the Church of England was forced to apologise after it issued a guidance that said sex was only for married straight couples.
Following the guidance, which came after a ruling allowing straight people to enter into civil partnerships, an open letter signed by over 3,000 people said the move made the institution a “laughing stock” and made it look “obsessed with sex.”
In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: “We as archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”