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ERG congratulates Anglican Church

 

‘The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has opted for peace-making without harm,’ Equality Rights Group (ERG) Chair, Felix Alvarez, has commented following the much-awaited Lambeth Conference of more than 650 Anglican bishops from around the world, the centre-piece of which was the Church’s stance on LGBT+ Christians.

‘ERG has written to the Archbishop, expressing this organisation’s understanding of the on-going nature of the internal debate facing the Church of England, and the hope that, in due course, conciliatory moves towards LGBT+ Christians’ lives will evolve in the CoE.

‘The Anglican Church faces difficult questions to resolve without provoking a split; and we understand the dilemmas involved,’ Mr. Alvarez continued. ‘There are many conservative anti-LGBT+ Bishops and congregations, especially in non-Western countries, for whom the issue is nothing less than condemnatory sin. Many Western-based Anglican congregations, however, adopt a more accepting view, allowing same-sex blessing ceremonies for their faithful, a caring response which allows time for reflection.

‘Clearly, same-sex issues have become a fundamental theological question for Christian and other faiths around the world. And an internal struggle is sometimes tearing congregations apart; the Methodist Church in the UK, for example, has cordoned off those congregations which don’t accept change and those who insist on it as a means of co-existing without schism.

‘To all intents and purposes, Gibraltar’s Churches remain enveloped in silence. A silence that ranges from an active on-going internal debate within the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis and an effort to consult at diocesan levels, to the Gibraltar Church of England, which will now need to establish where it stands after the Lambeth Conference traced parallel options available. The faithful face some difficult debates, but the door to understanding is open.

‘Smaller local denominations and churches also trail behind in addressing what is not only a fundamental and acute issue for the lives of some of its members; as well as for all those who are put off from membership due to what they see as their Church’s indifference or unwillingness to take even one step towards meeting them in their lives.

‘ERG respects the fundamental human right of individuals’ freedom of religion. As a Human and Civil Rights NGO, therefore, we remain non-interventionist with regard to the internal affairs of faith groups.

‘We cannot remain thus detached, however, on issues which are external to the Churches. Our role in campaigning and obtaining both Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage to make it possible for both same-sex and opposite-sex partners to be treated equally on matters officialising their relationships is a clear example of that position.

‘Nonetheless, we are concerned to report the sad experience of some same-sex individuals of Christian faith whose churches refuse to affirm their full Christian status as congregants, causing them much suffering. ERG is therefore exploring whether through our international and other resources we are able to assist in bringing about the support that is being requested.

‘Let us be clear: it is our role to assist. It is not our role to intervene. It’s a fine line to hold in equilibrium, but if individuals come to us with an important issue with which we can assist in helping them work towards a solution, ERG will certainly put all its energy behind such a project and deliver on its responsibilities towards them. Whilst a Gibraltar-based solution is the ideal, in this case we are hoping that ways forward can be found for a long-standing and rather sad situation,’ the statement ends.