The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, claimed in one of his last major public lectures before he steps down toward the end of this year, that the Church of England’s attitude towards gay relationships has often been harmful to people.
Only last month Dr Williams said that while the Church of England was “wrong” not to have advocated for gay equality, the Prime Minister David Cameron was also wrong to embarrass the church over the issue.
During the lecture to the religious theologian think tank ‘Theos’ earlier this week the Archbishop also suggested the church could and should learn some lessons from its passed mistakes.
“We are trying to catch up with a reality which for a long time we didn’t handle at all well,” he said. “I think the church has in recent years tried quite hard to say we are not condemning a person as such for their sexual orientation and that is a serious commitment. Nonetheless there is a hang-over from the feeling that you are condemned in your entirety for what you are doing, for what you are.”
Dr Williams continued: “If people are getting the message that they are condemned for what they are then of course there is a serious mental health impact, I hope this is not what the church is doing and I certainly don’t think it is what the church should be doing.
“It is not just the church it is also a climate of homophobia which still exists in our society, we still have work to do.”
His lecture came as a hunt for his successor reaches a critical moment as the committee seems increasingly divided on the issue and has warned it may take months to reach a decision.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu the who is strongly against marriage equality, gay clergy and gay rights in general seems to be the current front runner and many see his being the second most senior bishop in the church as a natural choice. However there is a fear that if he is promoted the rift between the church and the wider community will widen dramatically, further illustrating the church to be an outdated historical organisation incompatible to modern life and harmful to society.