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Statement from the Archbishop of York

Monday 22nd June 2015

The Archbishop of York has today issued this statement:

“Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people.

The 2005 Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué said:

“We….make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

I give the same assurance to homosexual people in York and across the Diocese that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

In 1991, whilst reaffirming a traditional view of human sexuality, the House of Bishops Report, ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ stressed that “there should be an open and welcoming place in the Christian Community” for homosexual people.

The Lambeth 1:10 Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference also said:

“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

In the Diocese of York in 2009 we engaged in this “listening process” and engaged in shared conversation on these matters within the Diocese.

Last week The Dean of York, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, spoke last about the York Pride march due to commence on the steps of York Minster last Saturday. She said:

"As in previous years, York Pride will begin its parade from outside the West End of York Minster and for the second year running we are joining other groups in the City of York in showing our support for a section of the community that frequently experiences discrimination and hostility.

"York Minster's invitation to everyone to discover God's love through our welcome, worship, learning and work is extended to the entire community both inside and outside of the Minster.  The Church of England is actively encouraging conversations around human sexuality and it is better to have those conversations with friends."

On Saturday 20th June, Canon Michael Smith, addressed marchers who had gathered on the steps of the Minster:

“My name is Michael Smith and I am the Canon Pastor here at York Minster. Once again I am delighted, on behalf of the Dean and the Minster community, to be able to say a few words and to wish you well for your parade to the Knavesmire and for the rest of your day’s activities and fun.

Our Mission statement here states that ‘York Minster invites everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work’. I would like to thank those who have organised this event for this invitation to speak which gives me the opportunity to tell you that our welcome at York Minster is completely and unreservedly inclusive.

Here at York Minster we are always open to having conversations with anyone who wants to come and talk with us and we are always ready to pray with and to pray for people at important times in their lives. Please do not hesitate to come and talk to us.”

He also offered the following prayer:

“Loving God, we give thank that the rainbow is a sign of your promise to love, care for and protect your creation and all your people. We pray for all who will share in this parade today and all who will watch it pass by. May all involved be reminded of your promise of love, care and protection, and of your big and generous heart where there is space for everyone. We offer our prayers and our thanksgivings in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Go on your way in peace. Grow in friendship with God, grow in friendship with your neighbours and follow the way of Jesus who reveals God’s love for all people and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you, those you love and those you pray for today and always. Amen”

The Church of England is currently engaged in a series of national conversations around different views of human sexuality. From time to time strident views will be expressed. Stridency is no substitute for love.

Where injury has been caused, natural justice requires that the Church of England’s processes are properly followed, so that grievances may be resolved Christianly and in an orderly manner, as befits the Body of Christ. As St Paul writes in his Epistle to the Ephesians:

“I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4.1-2.

 

+Sentamu Eboracensis  22nd June 2015

 

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