A recent statement endorsing conservative views on same-sex relationships is no longer available on the Church Pastoral Aid Society's (CPAS) website, after its publication received major backlash online.
A statement by trustees of the evangelical group within the Church of England endorsing the Evangelical Alliance’s affirmations on human sexuality was met with fierce criticism from liberal Anglicans on social media, who appeared unaware of the organisation's doctrinal position.
As of Tuesday, the link on its website appears to no longer be active.
Following the wave of negative responses from progressive Christians online, the link to the statement now reads “Page Not Found”.
After it was first published, Reverend Paul White posted on X: “I do not approve this message and will not be promoting any CPAS involvement in my team.”
Another X user commented: “I can hardly believe what I’m reading. This cannot go unchallenged. Sadly, CPAS has fallen into the hands of fanatics.”
CPAS exists to support local churches in mission and evangelism through training and equipping churches and leaders, providing resources and appointing evangelical clergy.
The Church of England has been bitterly divided over the issue of same-sex relationships for several years, with many large churches threatening to leave altogether, and others pledging to seek pastoral support from alternative bishops.
Among the statements that some less conservative Christians are taking issue with include: “We oppose moves within certain churches to accept and/or endorse sexually active same-sex partnerships as a legitimate form of Christian relationship and to permit the ordination to ministry of those in such sexual relationships.
“We welcome and support the work of those individuals and organisations who responsibly seek to help Christians who experience same-sex attraction as in conflict with their commitment to live in accordance with biblical teaching. This help will involve counsel and pastoral support to live a chaste life and, as part of this process, some may seek and experience changes in the strength or direction of their same-sex attractions.”
The full list of affirmations can be found here.
CPAS has been accused of endorsing homophobia and the suppression of LGBTQI+ desire.
Speaking on X, Fr. Brandon Fletcher James said: "How can the CPAS be a resource to the Church of England when it openly endorses homophobia? This is not an affirmation of human sexuality. If anything it is a strategic attempt to condemn, regulate and suppress LGBTQI+ desire."
The Trustees produced a statement on 11 January 2024, which sheds more light on the timeline, with regard to this developing story. It is available from the front page of their website, and you can also access it here.
(Editorial: Premier contacted CPAS when the story emerged on social media. This article was updated on 11 January to include the Trustees statement.)