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Churches help perpetuate injustices against LGBT people, says Bishop

Attitudes within churches ‘seems to be becoming more polarised, not less so’

Bishop Paul Colton

There should be no doubt that the churches have been complicit in perpetuating injustice against LGBT people, including among their own members, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork has said.

Paul Colton said it was clear “that some in the church hope that LGBT people might go back into the closet and stay there”.

“That’s not going to happen. None of us should be under any doubt about the turmoil and damage this causes, and I worry especially for the well-being of young gay people hearing and witnessing all of this,” he said.

“We are going to have to find a way forward, even if the situation in a variety of churches, not only ours, seems to be becoming more polarised, not less so. I am conscious that not everyone sees this as a matter of justice and injustice.”

He told the diocesan synod in Cork that “none of us should be in any doubt either that we in the churches are complicit in the hurt, and in perpetuating the injustice being caused to LGBT people, including the many fellow LGBT members of our churches”.

Bishop Colton recalled how last year “I referred to the fact that two days before our synod, our sister church in Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, had decided to alter its canon on marriage by removing the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Clergy who wish to conduct same-sex marriages will have to opt in, and no priest is to be compelled to do so”.

He had suggested “that the Scottish approach may represent a way forward for us too and that it is worth considering in our debate here in Ireland also. Some outside the Church of Ireland picked up on this suggestion but virtually no one of any outlook within the church picked up on it, and so it gained no traction. I do hope as an option it might seriously be looked at, or that some will come forward with another option for moving ahead”.

The “horrific truth” was that, alongside the good done, institutional religion had been “complicit in so much of the damage, hurt and injustice that has been done to ordinary people including the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said.