Church of England to draft pastoral guidance on same-sex couple blessings

Britain's Queen Elizabeth dies aged 96

LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England will work towards drafting new pastoral guidance and other material needed to allow same-sex couples to receive blessings from priests over the next few months, it said on Saturday.

The Church's governing body, called the General Synod, held a four-hour debate on the matter, which has revealed divisions within the institution after the synod voted in February to let gay couples have a prayer service after a civil marriage.

"It has been good to hear their (synod members') reflections, and we will take these away to feed into the concentrated drafting work that starts now. We look forward to reconvening in November," Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, said in a statement.

Among the 226 responses received from the synod on the blessings, 60 responses were that the prayers were too much like marriage and 44 responses that they don't go far enough and 42 responses that more pastoral guidance would be required for their use, the update published on the CoE website showed.

The CoE, central to the worldwide Anglican communion, does not allow same-sex marriage in its churches, and its discourse on homosexuality and gender is closely monitored by millions of Anglicans around the world.

(Reporting by Muvija M, Editing by Franklin Paul)