Church of England apologises to LGBTQ people, but still won’t marry them

The Church of England has published a letter yesterday, apologising to LGBTQ people for the way they are treated by churches, admitting they have at times been “rejected or excluded”.

“We want to apologize for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people — both those who worship in our churches and those who do not. For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry. The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful, and for this we repent,’’ read the pastoral letter, published on Friday.

Earlier this week, the Church of England, central to the Anglican communion, said that same-sex marriages still won’t be allowed in its churches as there had not been “sufficient consensus to propose a change in doctrine at the present time.” While same-sex marriages are legal in England since 2013, the church only gives them prayers, thanksgiving and a blessing.

“As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQI+ people. We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong. We affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQI+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God,” the letter added.

The religious body is “very divided” on the matter, “the differences among you are also present among us … We are partnered, single, celibate, married, divorced, widowed, bereaved; heterosexual, gay, bisexual and same-sex attracted. We have diverse convictions about sexuality and marriage,” the bishops wrote in a letter to the church.

The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, indicated he would not personally give blessing to civil married same-sex couples. “I will be extremely joyfully celebratory of these new [prayers of blessing but] will not personally use them in order not to compromise that pastoral care.”

The bishops’ proposals will be discussed in detail at General Synod which meets at Church House, Westminster, from February 6 to 9.