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Bishop of Liverpool apologizes for 'offensive' asides in LGBTQ+ rights speech

by Heather Preston
Bishop-Paul-Bayes-thumb_galleryfull.jpg - Banner image

The Bishop of Liverpool has apologized for "causing offense" to those with differing views on same sex marriage, following a speech he gave calling for a 'gender neutral canon' to be brought in - a law for marriage that does not require the couple to be heterosexual. 

Speaking at the Movement of Supportive Anglicans for an Inclusive Church (MoSAIC) annual conference in June, Rt Revd Paul Bayes said the Church of England should recognize marriage between people of the same sex and allow such ceremonies to take place in church.

He spoke strongly on issues of sexuality and also said: "I am glad to be able to speak wholeheartedly for a vision of Christian community that does not stink of oppression or of hypocrisy in the nostrils of the world."

In a public apology posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Bishop Paul said he stood by his position but regretted some "passing remarks" he made during his keynote speech that "have caused offense and distress to my brothers and sisters in Christ". He has requested to have them removed from the published text.

In his original speech Bishop Paul said: "I want to see a gender-neutral marriage canon, such as they have in the Episcopal Church or in the Scottish Episcopal Church, he said. And, as a necessary but not sufficient first step, I want to see conscientious freedom for the Church's ministers and local leaders to honor, recognize, and, yes indeed, to bless same-sex unions, whether civil partnerships or civil marriages.

"I want to see an end to LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are for fear of being exposed to conversion therapy or to being forbidden to minister in churches. I want to see an end to the inquisition of ordinands about their private lives. I want to see all this before I die," he said.

He went on to say he wanted the Church of England to remain as one Church.

"I want to see the conscientious rights of conservative people preserved for them. But I don't want any longer to see the conscientious rights of progressive people, who believe the truth of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York when they ask for a radical NEW Christian inclusion, I don't want to see their consciences ignored and explained away and overridden and indeed criminalized by the power of conservative groups and people."

He added that same-sex love and the blessing of its expression had become his agenda as bishop. 

"Although I never asked for this agenda before I came to Liverpool, I am glad to have inhabited that space now. As I grow older and the arc of my own ministry draws close to its end, I am glad to be able to speak wholeheartedly for a vision of Christian community that does not stink of oppression or of hypocrisy in the nostrils of the world," he said.

Rt Revd Paul Bayes, who intends to retire as the Bishop of Liverpool in February 2022 has increasingly advocated for LGBT inclusivity in the Church in recent years.

The C of E's ruling body, the General Synod, will once again discuss issues of sexuality at an online meeting, in just under one week's time.

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