Robert Innes, the Church of England’s Bishop in Europe, has said that that ecclesial community has no definition of a woman because such definitions were long thought self-evident.
His comment comes amid a session of the General Synod, the Church of England’s legislative body, which is being held in York July 8-12.
The synod was asked, “What is the Church of England’s definition of a woman?”
Innes responded, “There is no official definition, which reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy,” The Telegraph reported July 10.
“The LLF project however has begun to explore the marriage complexities associated with gender identity and points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God,” he added.
Living in Love and Faith “is part of discerning a way forward for the Church of England in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage,” according to its website.
The Anglican Communion, of which the Church of England is a part, has been strained in recent years by division over moral and sexual problems.
In 2018 the Church of England published pastoral guidelines for liturgies concerning gender transitions. These liturgies are intended to affirm and celebrate a person's shift to a chosen gender identity, and to "to recognize liturgically a person's gender transition."
The guidelines state that baptism is the "natural liturgical context for recognizing and celebrating [a transgendered person's] identity in Christ and God's love for them" and encourages ministers to accept and use "the preference of a transgender person in respect of their name and gendered (or other) pronouns" in the baptism of transgendered persons.
Baptized members of the Church of England are to be offered specially adapted rituals "to recognize liturgically a person's gender transition," the guidelines say.
The guidelines note that the Church of England "welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmations of trans people" and state that services to recognize their new identity should have a "celebratory character."