Anglican bishops urged to apologise after U-turning on call to deny same-sex marriage

a protester outside the church of england general synod

The Anglican Church has U-turned on a resolution to brand same-sex marriage “not permissible”, instead accepting that there is “deep disagreement” on the issue.

The church’s Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade meeting of bishops of the Anglican Communion to pass resolutions and decide “the mind of the communion” on current issues, began on Tuesday (26 July).

LGBTQ+ acceptance and support for marriage equality is increasing among Anglicans, and Anglican Communion member churches have embraced same-sex church weddings in Scotland, Canada, the United States, and Brazil. Many other churches also allow blessings for same-sex couples.

However, at the 2022 Lambeth Conference, convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the communion put forward a draft call, an item which is to be discussed and voted on by bishops, reviving the notorious Lambeth Resolution I:10.

Initially passed in 1998, that resolution saw bishops reject “homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture”.

More than 20 years on, a “Call on Human Dignity” stated: “It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible.”

Hit with overwhelming backlash from churches, clergy and the LGBTQ+ community, the communion has now been forced to change tack at the eleventh hour, although no apology has been issued.

An updated call now reads: “Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue.

“It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that ‘all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect’ (I10, 1998).

“Many Provinces continue to affirm that same-gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I10 (1998) states that the ‘legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions’ cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same-sex union/ marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception.

“As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.”

Although critics were relieved that the call had been revised, they insisted that an apology or at least acknowledgement of the hurt caused was the only way to restore trust.

Charlie Bell, a gay Church of England priest, shared on Twitter: “Bishops posting oh so jolly images about Lambeth, yet who haven’t posted a single thing to even acknowledge the hurt that Call caused – whatever their theological perspective – really should not be surprised that people haven’t got much time for their oh so jolly contributions.

“It is quite extraordinary that a number of bishops haven’t bothered to say anything at all – something that will be remembered. Silence is not a neutral act.”

Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation who joined other activists and clergy in writing a letter to protest the anti-LGBTQ+ call, told PinkNews in a statement: “I’m pleased to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury has finally agreed to reflect the reality of the Anglican Communion and has removed any call to reaffirm a 24-year-old resolution that has been the source of so much pain and hurt.

“What we don’t have, however, is any explanation or apology as to why such a contentious move was made in the first place.

“In order for any trust to be restored, those responsible would do well to show some contrition and recognise the deep pain they have caused to many Christians, especially LGBTQ+ Christians, around the world.”

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