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REX/Daily Mail/Bruce Adams
UK News

Archbishop: Clergy entitled to express varying views on sexuality

Through a statement, Dr John Sentamu has been responding to the criticism of York Minster's blessing of a gay pride march last week.

Speaking on the steps of the Cathedral, Canon Michael Smith, addressed marchers. He said: "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 move was criticised by local vicar Revd Melvin Tinker, who on a local radio station said: "Would he say that serial adulterers should be welcome in the church? Should he say that people engaged in paedophilia should be welcome in the church?

"What he is basically saying is that in his opinion, this is a valid activity."

The Archbishop however has defended the words given by Canon Michael Smith. He said: "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."

Referring to Anglican document condemning the victimisation of gay people, written in 2005, he said: "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."

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