The Church of England’s report on sexuality has been strongly criticised by a group of conservative Anglicans.
GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) expressed its “serious concerns” ahead of a vote to ‘take note’ of the report.
The group was responding to a report from senior bishops saying there was “little support” among bishops for changing the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage, but called for “maximum freedom” for homosexual people within the Church.
GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said in a statement, “The Church of England bishops have recommended the right thing for the wrong reason.
He said the Church has retained traditional teaching on marriage “not because it represents an apostolic boundary”, but “because they think that holding opposite views together will eventually produce a consensus”.
He questioned the report’s call for a “relaxation of church discipline” and said it “confuses pastoral sensitivity with a permissive church culture which already tolerates, in practice, clergy who have contracted same-sex ‘marriages’”.
Pro-gay campaigners described the report as unacceptable, saying it does not go far enough.
…confuses pastoral sensitivity with a permissive church culture
GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh
GAFCON UK has released a separate statement to say it does not have confidence that the bishops’ findings “will guarantee the maintenance of orthodoxy within the Church of England for the future”.
It said it was “concerned” that the Church’s trajectory “aligns with the ethics of contemporary culture rather than the challenging but life-giving teaching of the Bible”.
The statement added that the C of E’s current position “is not at all satisfactory, as it involves a lack of clarity about our message, openness to revisionist theology and practice, and further conflict within the church”.
Reform, a conservative group within the C of E, criticised the report and said: “In adopting a framework which seeks to take a middle path between biblical truth and cultural sensitivities, the bishops have ensured theological incoherence and hypocrisy will prevail for the foreseeable future.”
The vote to ‘take note’ of the report is due to be discussed at the General Synod today.