Church of England apologizes for ‘shameful’ treatment of LGBTQ+ people

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The Church of England has issued a formal apology for the “shameful” times when LGBTQ+ people have been “rejected or excluded”.

In a letter, Church of England bishops acknowledged that LGBTQ+ people have “failed” in the past, but they should and will be “welcomed and valued”.

It comes after the church announced this week that it will bless civil same-sex marriages for the first time – although its position on gay marriage will not change and same-sex couples still cannot marry in the church.

The pastoral letter released on Friday said: “We would like to apologize for the way the Church of England has treated LGBTQ+ people – both those who worship in our churches and those who do not.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a Church of England news conference at Lambeth Palace Library in south London, after pro-gay marriage bishops commended the Church of England's decision to allow the blessing of same-sex partnerships while remaining clergy It was forbidden to marry same-sex couples. Picture date: Friday January 20, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story RELIGION Marriage. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a Church of England press conference at Lambeth Palace Library, south London (Image: PA)

“We are deeply sorry for the times when we rejected or excluded you and those you love. The occasions on which you have received hostile and homophobic reactions in our churches are shameful and for that we repent.

“As we listened, we were told over and over how we let down LGBTQ+ people. We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is deeply wrong.

“We affirm publicly and unequivocally that LGBTQ+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses a press conference at Lambeth Palace Library on Friday before the church’s General Synod next month.

Speaking of the same-sex marriage decision, he said it was an attempt “to seek the common good,” but acknowledged it would “go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others.”

The plans, to be outlined in a report to the General Synod, will allow same-sex couples after a legal marriage to attend church for services, including devotional prayers, thanksgiving and God’s blessing.

The synod is asked to discuss the proposals in detail during its February 6-9 session, with the main debate on the proposals scheduled for February 8th.

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Justin Scaccy

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