A Church of Ireland bishop has supported the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples for the first time.
The Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, said he hoped the church would one day recognise same-sex marriages in religious ceremonies.
Dr Colton told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme: “The events in society are moving very rapidly and the church is not at all up to pace with the debate.
“I certainly support civil same sex marriage.
“I also recognise that the Church of Ireland’s definition of marriage is for itself and I adhere to that discipline... but that is not to say that everyone must be required to take the church of Ireland’s view of marriage.
“Having said that, I’m also among those in the church, and perhaps we’re only a minority – albeit a significant one, that long to see the day when we can have a discussion – as we’ve had discussions over the years on all sorts of other issues – about the nature of marriage. With a view, ultimately, at least to the blessing of same sex couples following civil unions if not to their marriage in church as is happening in other parts of the Anglican communion.”