Archbishops in the Church of England have apologized for a statement issued last week that said only married heterosexual couples should have sex.
“We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologize and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardized trust,” the Thursday statement said. “We are very sorry and recognize the division and hurt this has caused.”
On January 22, the Church’s House of Bishops published pastoral guidance regarding civil partnerships between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. “In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently,” the statement read.
The Church said that their teachings on sexual ethics do not change for unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples in civil partnerships. “For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”
The original statement came in response to a change to England’s law regarding civil partnerships, which same-sex couples have been able to form since 2005. New regulations, which went into effect in December 2019, extended the ability to form civil partnerships to same-sex couples.
The Church of England faced backlash after their original statement, including an open letter which claimed the church “has this week become a laughingstock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex.” The letter was signed by over 3,000 people. [RELATED: French Police Reported Nearly 900 Acts Of Anti-Catholic Vandalism In 2018. What Is Going On?]
The letter’s authors argued that “the pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document.”
“Indeed, this statement is anything but ‘pastoral’ – it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects,” they added. “More importantly this statement has significantly damaged the mission of the Church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.”