After three years of closed doors arguments on LGBT issues, Archbishops in a join statement has apologised for ‘damage and hurt’ the Church has caused the LGBT community. This is coming as Church of England begins to pave ways for same-sex marriages.
Leaders of the Church of England admitted ‘talk of truth, holiness and discipleship has been wielded harshly’, they promised that within two years, a decision would be made on changing the Anglican rules that say gay sex is sinful.
A way forward for the Church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationship and marriage is set to be prepared by a group led by Right Reverend Sarah Mullally.
Since 1978, the Church has remained deeply divided over gay rights. At the same time, General Synod first voted for the reinforcement of the orthodox teaching that gay sex is sinful.
Earlier this year, the bishops of Church of England had restated that sex is for married couples only and that civil partnership should be ‘sexually abstinent friendships’.
The leadership of the Church have produced a 480-page book, with accompanying films, podcasts and education courses to examine the issue further
In 2014, same-sex civil marriages were introduced by the legislators to succeed civil partnership which carries the rights of marriage in all but name, a move that was introduced in 2005. The legislation, however, gave faith-based groups an effective opt-out.
In a book written the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop Welby wrote in a foreword that the Church should be ashamed of causing hurt to gay people.
They wrote ‘As soon as we begin to consider questions of sexual identity and behaviour, we need to acknowledge the huge damage and hurt that has been caused where talk of truth, holiness and discipleship has been wielded harshly and not ministered as a healing balm.
‘Especially amongst LGBTI+ people, every word we use – quite possibly including these in this very foreword, despite all the care we exercise – may cause pain.
‘We have caused, and continue to cause, hurt and unnecessary suffering. For such acts, each of us, and the Church collectively, should be deeply ashamed and repentant. As archbishops, we are personally very sorry where we have contributed to this.’
As the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Christopher Cocksworth revealed, ‘There is no doubt that there are certain decisions in 2022 that the Church will have to face.’ He added: ‘There are some who feel this doctrine of marriage is ripe for development.’
While the Synod has the power to enact binding rules, its deliberations take toms. This means that the first Church of England same-sex marriages would be solemnised by 2025.
In 2017, The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, tried to introduce reforms that would allow blessing services but not marriage for gay couples, both the gay right supporters and conservative evangelicals voted against it because gay right supporters wanted something more and conservative Anglicans condemned the idea entirely.
Should there be a new deal on gay rights and same-sex marriage? It may toe the same path as the movement for women priests and bishops which ran for decades till a compromise was reached. However, a move to approve same-sex marriage will end up tearing the already loose relationship with the Global South further apart.