The Dean of York has accused the Church of England of being out of touch with popular opinion in its stance over gay marriages.

The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, the C of E’s most senior female cleric, said she would have no problem blessing same-sex weddings.

Tipped to become the first female bishop, the Dean argued the present leadership had not “quite got” the sweeping changes towards homosexuality within the UK.

She is urging bishops to relax their attitudes on same-sex marriage, telling Radio Times: “The blessing of a gay relationship is not theologically a problem for me personally, but I’m under the discipline of the Church and I keep the rules.”

While she has never formally blessed a gay partnership, she has found ways of celebrating them within the Church’s rules.

She continued in the interview: “When people have come to me in the past and said ‘We’re looking for a way of celebrating our civil partnership, how shall we do it?’ we’ve found ways of doing it.

“I think it is very costly to the Church that women have not been able to be bishops till now. And this [the stalemate over gay marriages] is also going to be costly.”

She said she had been approached by a number of same-sex couples with their marriage plans.

"They [gay couples] understand in their heads what the Church’s position is, but they no longer understand in their hearts,” she added.

“It’s driving people away and that’s dreadful. Marriage is now a relationship of equals. And they can see that gay marriage might be constructed along those lines.

“That’s a very, very significant change. And I’m not sure the House of Bishops has quite got that.

“It’s very difficult for leaders of organisations to be right in touch with how fast things are changing in the country.”

The Dean was speaking to promote the new BBC2 series The Minster, which begins next Friday.