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UK: Senior Church liberals pile pressure on Archbishop to stop the 'vilification' of gay Christians

UK: Senior Church liberals pile pressure on Archbishop to stop the 'vilification' of gay Christians
Signatories call on Church to 'repent' for treating gay people like 'second class citizens'
Letter will heighten tensions at a meeting of the world's Anglican leaders
Conservative leaders from Africa and Asia threatening to walk out unless liberal British and American clerics abandon support for gay marriage
In a fierce attack on the conservatives, the letter from signatories says the Church should acknowledge it had treated gay people as 'a problem'

By JONATHAN PETRE RELIGIOUS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
http://www.dailymail.co.uk
January 9, 2016

More than 100 senior Church of England liberals will today increase pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support reforms aimed at stopping the 'vilification' of gay Christians.

In a strongly worded open letter to Justin Welby, the signatories -- who range from bishops and cathedral deans to MPs -- call on the Church to 'repent' for treating gay people like 'second-class citizens'.

The letter will heighten tensions at a week-long meeting of the world's Anglican leaders which begins in Canterbury tomorrow, at which the Archbishop hopes to avert a permanent split between warring factions in the Church.

In a strongly worded open letter to Justin Welby, the signatories -- who range from bishops and cathedral deans to MPs -- call on the Church to 'repent' for treating gay people like 'second-class citizens

In a strongly worded open letter to Justin Welby, the signatories -- who range from bishops and cathedral deans to MPs -- call on the Church to 'repent' for treating gay people like 'second-class citizens

The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that conservative leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out unless liberal British and American clerics abandon their support for gay marriage and openly gay bishops -- or are disciplined.

In a fierce attack on the conservatives, the letter says the Church should acknowledge it had treated gay people as 'a problem to be solved rather than as brothers and sisters in Christ to be embraced and celebrated', making them 'feel like second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God'.

It urges the Anglican leaders to repent for the suffering they had caused by 'accepting and promoting discrimination', and says they should be 'prophetic' in their actions and 'Christ-like in your love towards our LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] brothers and sisters who have been ignored and even vilified for too long'.

The 105 signatories of the letter include 20 cathedral deans -- nearly half the country's total -- such as the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, David Ison, and the gay Dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John.

Others to add their name to the letter are eight retired bishops, including the former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, and one serving bishop, the suffragan Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson.

Though no senior diocesan bishops publicly backed the letter, other high-profile signatories include seven archdeacons, academics such as the Master of Trinity Hall College at Cambridge University, and former Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry.

More than 100 senior Church of England liberals will today increase pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support reforms aimed at stopping the 'vilification' of gay Christians

More than 100 senior Church of England liberals will today increase pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support reforms aimed at stopping the 'vilification' of gay Christians

Dean Ison said: 'I believe that it's imperative for us to remember that while we seek to engage honestly, lovingly and respectfully with our differences of context and scriptural interpretation, our discussions are actually about the lives of sisters and brothers who have often been rejected and victimised on the grounds of their sexuality.

'The Church should be the first place that they feel they can come to, to find love and acceptance rather than judgment.'

The Church has been bitterly divided over the issue of homosexuality since the American branch of Anglicanism ignored official policy in 2003 by consecrating Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop.

It further inflamed passions last year by approving gay marriages in church.

The letter comes after one leading conservative, Uganda's Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, said he would withdraw from the meeting unless 'godly order' was restored, which would almost certainly require the expulsion of the liberal Americans.

There has also been mounting concern over rumours that Archbishop Welby will attempt to maintain a 'communications blackout' at the meeting by asking the leaders to hand in all mobile phones and laptops before it begins.

Conservatives may avoid attending evensong with their fellow leaders in Canterbury Cathedral tomorrow night if they feel their demands are not being met.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: 'The Archbishops will have an opportunity to discuss the letter when they meet.'

To see full letter and all signatories, click here: https://lettertoarchbishops.wordpress.com/

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