'Slap in the face' if church does not consider blessings for same-sex couples, says ex-Archbishop

'It's an issue that's been facing the church for a very long time', Bishop John Davies tells Adrian Masters on Face to Face

The former Archbishop of Wales has said it would be a "slap in the face" for gay Christians if the church does not consider introducing services of blessing for same-sex couples.

There is currently no formal provision to recognise gay relationships in the Church in Wales. 

Bishop John Davies said while a service of blessing would stop short of a full marriage ceremony, it would be wrong for the church not to consider changing the rules when the governing body meets in September.

Bishop Davies, who stepped down from his post in May, said: "It's an issue that's been facing the church for a very long time.

"And it's been facing the church because everybody's understanding of the dynamics of human relationships, human love, human sexuality, human psychology and so on have grown.

"Simply to say that because it's always been so it must never change I think is a slap in the face to an awful lot of people who see something valuable in the church, but to some extent still feel rejected by the church."

Bishop Davies during a visit of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Brecon Cathedral in 2012. Credit: PA Images

The former Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, who became Archbishop of Wales in 2017, has presided over a continuing decline in congregations.

According to figures released the following year, 26,000 people attended a Church in Wales service each week. 

The outgoing Archbishop said the institution must change to attract younger audiences - a challenge faced by the new Head of the Church, due to be elected in November.

"I think we need to look in the mirror and say what have we got to offer them, what is there that's attractive, how flexible are we in terms of when we actually put services on?" he said.

"So much else goes on in society now on a Sunday. There's no use grumbling about it.

"There are seven days in the week, we could be doing so much more at other times."

Bishop Davies explained how he used his training as a solicitor on ITV Cymru Wales' Face to Face. Credit: ITV Wales

Bishop Davies, from the Gwent area, trained as a criminal solicitor before becoming a priest.

He told Face to Face presenter Adrian Masters that his legal training served him well in his second career.

"One spends a lot of time on one's feet, addressing people. And there's an immediate connection," he explained.

"I was given to understand that I was a good communicator. So I took that hopefully into the Church's ministry."

He also revealed that he was sent on his way with a joke when he quit law to begin his religious training.

"On my last day in the magistrates' court in Newport, the chairman of the bench said that we understand that you're going to be mitigating to a higher trinity."

Watch the full interview with Bishop John Davies on Face to Face with Adrian Masters, ITV Cymru Wales, 10.45pm, Thursday 5 August