Church of England bishops apologized to LGBTQ+ people on Friday, January 20 for the rejection and hostility they have faced, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby acknowledging that the religious body was still “very divided” on the subject.
The apology comes days after the Church of England set out proposals developed by the bishops that showed it would refuse to allow same-sex couples to get married in its churches but said priests could bless them in church.
In an open letter, the bishops apologized for not loving the LGBTQ+ community the way God does. The letter also affirmed that the Church of England welcomes the LGBTQ+ community with open arms as we all are children of God.
A spokesperson for LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall said the Church of England had “once again” fallen short of being inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ Christians. This apology has come when many queer lives have suffered a lot and faced discrimination and hostility.
The most high-profile support from a religious leader for same-sex couples to get married in churches has come from the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, who apologized in November for having been slow to change his views.