Getty Images

Getty Images – 1/2/17

Following a two-year discussion on the matter, bishops of the Church of England have announced that they will not accept gay marriage, defending instead that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, reports The Guardian.

The bishops’ report comes after two years of intense internal debate and reflection involving clergy and laity and decades of factional feuding within the church. “Gay rights” crusaders within the Church of England are infuriated, condemning the bishops’ report.

Bishop Graham James of Norwich stated that the church should not “adapt its doctrine to the fashions of any particular time,” presenting the bishops’ report at a press conference. However, church law should give “maximum freedom” to gay couples, giving clergy some leeway in certain cases, the report also states.

The bishops have stressed that this report is to be accepted as part of an on-going process, rather than an attempt at a final answer on the matter. The Church of England is a widely-varying mix of liberal and conservative Christians, with a wide range of views on a wide range of matters.

The church’s gay campaigners have termed the report “cruel” and a “utter failure,” predicting it will lead to increased clerical disobedience on the matter, which the hierarchy admits is already happening to some degree.