Church of England apologises for treatment of LGBTQ+ people: ‘We have not loved you as God loves you’

Justin Welby speaks in a purple robe during an event.

The Church of England has formally apologised for its historically “hostile” treatment of LGBTQ+ people.

Bishops of the church wrote a letter accepting its responsibility for the homophobic abuse that the LGBTQ+ community faces on a daily basis.

“We want to apologise for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQ+ people – both those who worship in our churches and those who do not,” the statement read.

The apology was written following the church’s refusal to allow the ordainment of same-sex marriages by members of the clergy after a briefing on Tuesday (17 January).

A suggested vote on allowing same-sex marriage during next month’s General Synod came as part of an ongoing campaign to instil acceptance of LGBTQ+ people within the church, named “Living in Love and Faith”.

But Church of England bishops refused to let a vote even take place, saying that they believed marriage to be a union of one man and one woman.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury sings on a pedestal as a group of Christians stand beside him.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said the decision was for the ‘common good.’ (Getty)

In their open letter, church officials said they were “deeply sorry” for the rejection, exclusion and overall hostility towards queer Christians.

“The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this, we repent.

“As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQ+ people,” it continued. “We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.”

But, despite the message, queer members of the church found the letter to be insincere, especially considering it was written in the same week that same-sex couples were once again excluded.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby claimed the decision was a bid to seek “the common good” while simultaneously admitting it would “go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others”.

But for former LGBTQ+ government advisor and gay Christian activist Jayne Ozanne, the message is loud and clear: “Apology not accepted, archbishop!”

“I do wonder whether the archbishops have actually forgotten they’ve apologised to us before, many times, or whether they think that this will cut it for us given that discrimination continues?”

Archbishop of Canterbury to allow blessing of same-sex married couples, but wont bless them himself

Welby clarified during a speech on Friday (20 January) – just as the Church of England issued the apology – that, while he would not change its stance on same-sex marriage, the church would let married couples be blessed by priests.

He then said he would not carry the blessings out personally due to his “pastoral responsibility for the whole communion”.

Other recommendations published by the Church following the apology were described as “ludicrous” and “highly hypocritical”.

The list includes several points on welcoming the LGBTQ+ community and commending the “continued learning together enabled by the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process,” but doesn’t include actual improvements on LGBTQ+ rights.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said in a tweet that the recommendations are “even worse than what has been trailed”.

“Another apology for being institutionally homophobic, but no change,” he added. “I can’t imagine Parliament remaining passive on this, given [Church of England’s] established status.”

Church of England has apologised for treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the past

The Church of England attempted to rebuild its bridge with the queer community earlier in 2022 after Sandi Toksvig slammed Welby for his views on homosexuality.

The Danish-British comedian wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury following his affirmation that “homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture”.

In her letter, she wrote: “Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on? You didn’t have more pressing matters like, I don’t know, war or poverty?”

Welby later responded to the letter thanking her for the criticisms and asking to “sit down over coffee to talk with you”.

“The hated and threats that you – and so many other LGBTQI+ people – have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are in. I have absolutely no doubt about that and I want you to be in no doubt of my position.”

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