London: Church of England bishops have apologized to LGBTQI+ people for the pushback and hostility they have faced, but Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby acknowledged the religious body was still “very divided” on the issue.
The apology comes days after the church put forward proposals developed by bishops that showed it would refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry in their churches, while saying priests could bless them.
“We have not loved them as God loves them, and that is profoundly wrong,” the bishops said in an open letter. “We affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQI+ people are welcomed and valued: we are all children of God.
“The occasions when they have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for that we repent.”
The Church of England, central to one of the world’s oldest Christian institutions, the Anglican Communion, defended its teaching that marriage is between “one man and one woman” in the proposals. Gay marriage is legal in Great Britain.
“We are divided, there is no point in pretending otherwise. The Church of England and the Anglican Communion are very divided,” Welby told reporters, ahead of a synod meeting next month, when the proposals will be further debated.
“I am sure that the discussions will continue. But this is a point of enormous importance, not only within the Anglican Communion and the Church of England, but also throughout the global church,” he added.
“It’s a long trip. I’m sure the last word hasn’t been said.”