The Church of England issued an apology for its treatment of LGBTQ people Friday, days after bishops said it would not allow same-sex marriages inside its churches following a six-year period of considering the issue and public disagreements among church bishops, with the result condemned by some activists as “hollow.”
“For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry,” bishops wrote Friday, adding “the occasions on which you received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this, we repent.”
Despite the apology, the church noted its opinion on same-sex marriages—that marriage should be between a man and a woman—would not change.
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent activist supporting LGBTQ reform in the church, said the apology “sounds hollow and cruel.”
Ben Bradshaw, a member of England’s House of Representatives, condemned the apology: “Another apology for being institutionally homophobic, but no change.”
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said he was “extremely joyful” of the church’s stance, according to the BBC, adding he would not bless civil marriages between same-sex couples.
The apology follows an earlier announcement in which the church said it would only recognize civil marriages or partnerships, adding there was not “sufficient consensus” to change the church’s opinion.
“This is absolutely ludicrous and highly hypocritical,” Ozanne tweeted, adding the acknowledgment by church bishops of harm against LGBTQ people “does nothing to stop that harm. The discrimination continues — as does its teaching.”
Stephen Cottrell, the archbishop of York, said he would personally bless same-sex marriages and suggested he did not believe gay sex was sinful in response to the church’s statement, according to The Guardian.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in both England and Wales since 2013, according to the Associated Press, though the Church of England has yet to change its stance. An announcement by the church that it would continue to not allow same-sex marriages inside its churches follows a “six-year period of listening, learning and discernment,” according to its statement. The church recognized disagreement among its archbishops, including Cottrell, though a “majority of churches in the Anglican Communion” will continue to push “traditional teaching on marriage.”
What To Watch For
A discussion outlining the Church of England’s decision to continue to not allow same-sex marriages—among other topics—will be held publicly between February 6 and 9.