Church of England Accused of Being Both 'Homophobic' and Too Weak on Biblical Marriage

 

(Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble)Members of the clergy enter York Minster before a service to consecrate Reverend Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England, in York, northern England, January 26, 2015.
(Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville)The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (L) speaks with protestors in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, southern Britain January 15, 2016. The Anglican Church has slapped sanctions on its liberal U.S. branch for supporting same-sex marriage, a move that averted a formal schism in the world's third largest Christian denomination but left deep divisions unresolved. The Anglican communion, which counts some 85 million members in 165 countries, has been in crisis since 2003 because of arguments over sexuality and gender between liberal churches in the West and their conservative counterparts, mostly in Africa.
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The Church of England has been branded as both "institutionally homophobic" by a gay vicar for its biblical stance against same-sex marriage, and too liberal by conservatives who are installing their own bishop to defend traditional marriage.

BBC News reported on Monday that the Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, the first CofE vicar to marry his same-sex partner in defiance of Church law, has decided to quit the Church, calling it "institutionally homophobic."

"The people of the Church of England, the worshiping congregations up and down the country are amazing people who worship and serve their local communities and do tremendous amounts of good in lots of places and for the most part they are welcoming and accepting of the LGBT community," Foreshew-Cain said.

"The problem is with the leadership of the Church which maintains and promotes policies and practices which are discriminatory against LGBT people," he asserted.

The vicar added that he felt "constant pressure" while serving the Church because of his sexual orientation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has backed the biblical definition of marriage as defined between one man and one woman, but has also called for acceptance and dialog with gay people, which has earned him critics from both sides of the issue.

Premier Christianity said on Monday that the Global Anglican Futures Conference has now made the decision to install a new bishop in the U.K. in order to defend the biblical definition of marriage, with group members explaining that they do not believe Church leadership is strong enough on the issue.

GAFCON said in a statement, "... within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England.

"These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership," it added.

"Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe."

The group members warned that there is a "troubling ambiguity from diocese to diocese" in the CofE when it comes to the issues of sexuality.

Concerns have risen over a number of churches within the global Anglican Communion, such as the Episcopal Church in America, and now the Scottish Episcopal Church, who have decided to support gay marriage.

"Of immediate concern is the reality that on June 8, the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus' teaching on marriage," GAFCON explained.

"If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care."

While Welby backed the temporary suspension of the U.S. Episcopal Church for its refusal to change course on its support for gay marriage, he has tried on numerous occasions to heal divisions.

In January 2016, he apologized for the "hurt and pain" the Anglican church has inflicted on lesbian, gay and transgender people, and has met with LGBT campaigners to hear their concerns.

"It's a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality. I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the Church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country," Welby said at the time.

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