- 800 clergy have signed a letter over the Church of England’s bid to restrict sex to married heterosexuals. Even some bishops have broken ranks.
Church of England clergy have slammed their own bishops after they issued new guidance limiting sex and marriage to heterosexuals.
The Anglican Church last week ruled: ‘Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falliing short of God’s purpose for human beings.’
LGBT+ people and allies led a massive backlash against the new guidance. Gay and bi men referred to their own sexual encounters with Church of England vicars to prove the institution’s hypocrisy.
One theologian, Andrew Graystone, pointed out the official guidance mentioned sex 49 times. But it didn’t use the word ‘love’ once.
Bishops join revolt against Church of England’s gay sex ban
But now even Church of England bishops are in open revolt against the House of Bishops guidance.
Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, agreed the bid to outlaw sex had made the church ‘a laughing stock’.
Meanwhile Rachel Treweek, bishop of Gloucester, said she was ‘deeply frustrated and saddened’.
Treweek added it had caused ‘unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that’.
Other bishops lined up to support Treweek’s comments. Pete Wilcox, bishop of Sheffield; John Inge, bishop of Worcester; David Walker, bishop of Manchester and Rob Wickman, bishop of Edmonton all backed Treweek.
Letter says bishops have let down faithful
Now over 3,000 people and 800 clergy have signed a letter against the guidance.
The organizers of the open letter have sent it to the church’s most senior officials, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and Stephen Cottrell who will take over York in the summer.
The letter says the bishops’ statement is ‘cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects’.
It adds: ‘The Church of England has this week become a laughingstock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex. More importantly this statement has significantly damaged the mission of the Church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.’
And the signatories say church officials misled them. They promised not to issue new statements on the issue until the publication of a report later this year.
They said they feel ‘badly let down’. And they call on the bishops to consider how to build ‘a truly radically inclusive Christian Church’ together.
So far, one bishop, eight retired bishops and eight serving deans have signed.