UK bishop apologizes for 'offence' after comments on conservative Anglicans in speech on sexuality

(Photo: Anglican Diocese of Liverpool)Anglican Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes

The issue of tolerance on views of those who believe Christian marriage is between a man and woman and those who accept same-sex marriage or "gender-neutral" marriage has arisen again after a speech by the Bishop of Liverpool on sexuality.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, apologized to traditionalist Anglicans for "the offence or distress" caused by comments calling for a "gender-neutral marriage canon" in which he said he conveyed a lack of respect for "those who think differently."

The apology came s after Bishop Bayes on June 26 made a speech on sexuality to the LGBT group MoSAIC, criticizing conservative people for fighting "yesterday's battles," Christian Today reported.

The website Thinking Anglicans linked to the full text.

In his speech the bishop criticized "those conservative people who are always looking for a ditch to die in and who have chosen this one this time.

"Divorce, contraception, the place of women in ministry - all these are now yesterday's battles, though they were all the last ditch in their time."

Bayes said, "And now in our time to hear some talk you would think that sexuality in general, and same-sex relationships in particular, is the line that somehow God has always wanted us to draw in the sand so that the faithful and Godly may be identified, and the faithless and Godless may be condemned and paralyzed from action and if necessary excluded."

Later the bishop said: "I do want us to remain one church, and within that church for example 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," said Bayes.

"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."

Bayes told the MoSAIC activists: "Inclusion is seamless, and I think MoSAIC understands that. So, I want to see more people like you, and to encourage you, and to share with you the task of holding these values before the Church, and before the electors to the General Synod, and in the end before the world."

Within a week of his speech to MoSAIC, Bishop Bayes announced his retirement in March 2022 and then issued a statement apologizing for his comments to MoSAIC.

"Some days ago I gave a speech to the annual conference of the Movement of Supportive Anglicans for an Inclusive Church (MoSAIC). In it I made a number of substantive points to which I remain committed.

"I also made some passing remarks which clearly conveyed a lack of respect for those who think differently. I deeply regret that I did so. I have asked for the published text of my speech to be adjusted accordingly," he said.

"I am very sorry that these remarks have caused offence or distress to sisters and brothers in Christ whose views on the matters under discussion differ from my own.

"I gladly and freely apologize to them. I seek the forgiveness of all those to whom these remarks caused offence.

"I fully accept and regret that my own impatience has caused me on this occasion in the closing months of my ministry to overstep the limits of good manners, mutual respect and common courtesy.

"I am very sorry indeed that this has been the case."

Copyright © 2021 Ecumenical News