Last Friday, the Church of England formally apologized for its treatment of the LGBTQ community. “The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful, and for this we repent,” said bishops in an official statement. The statement comes after a five-year debate on the church’s stance on sexuality.
Same-sex marriage, however, will not be recognized by the Church of England. Instead, the church proposes that same-sex couples have a church service including prayers of thanks after a civil marriage ceremony or a registered civil partnership.
Some members of the church acknowledge that the decision on church services acknowledges the lived experiences of some longtime church members. However, some clergy members will choose to not use the new prayers to bless same-sex couples. One of these clergy members, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, says that his objective is to bring unity among the almost 85 million members of the Church of England. “…I will not personally use them in order not to compromise that pastoral care,″ he told reporters.
Some people have spoken up, calling the church’s treatment of the LGBT community cruel. Jayne Ozanne, a member of the Anglican church who has been vocal about LGBT inclusion in the church, tweeted her disappointment towards the decision. “The discrimination continues, as does its teaching,” tweeted Ozanne.
A spokesperson for gay and transgender lobby group Stonewall spoke with Reuters, telling them that the Church of England has once again “fallen short”.
“An apology only goes so far when so many LGBTQ+ Christians have faced hostility and discrimination for who they are,” the spokesperson told Reuters in an email.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the UK and Wales since 2013, but the church has not shifted their views.