Bullying over theological differences is ‘completely unacceptable’ – bishops

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Bishops in the Church of England have called on Anglicans to be respectful when discussing sexuality and gender identity.

In particular, the statement from the London College of Bishops stresses that bullying over theological differences is “completely unacceptable”.

The statement was issued as churches continue to discuss the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resources on marriage, relationships, sexuality and gender identity released last year.

The bishops called for “kindness, humility and profound grace”, and said that LLF should be an opportunity for Anglicans “to love, listen to and understand each other better with our theological convictions and in the diversity of our lived experience”.

The launch of the resources triggered a war of words between liberals and conservatives on social media, with a transgender priest who appeared in the trailer video for the resources reporting a “hate crime” to the police. 

Engagement with the resources will take place across the Church of England throughout this year, with a debate in General Synod planned for 2022. 

In their statement, the bishops commended the Church of England’s Digital Charter, a voluntary pledge committing Anglicans to making social media and the web “more positive places”. 

They also suggested that extra care be taken as much of the dialogue around LLF will take place online due to the pandemic rather than face-to-face.

“As a College, we have each decided at this time to sign up to the Church of England’s Digital Charter … We would encourage you to do the same,” they said.

“The values at the heart of that Charter, including truth, kindness and togetherness, are fundamental to LLF, to the conversations that are happening digitally, and to the discussions which will, in time, hopefully take place in person.

“It is legitimate to articulate the traditional position of the Church and it is legitimate to argue the case for change in the Church, but we are clear that bullying on the grounds of expressed theological difference is completely unacceptable.

“We also profoundly regret the considerable harm, abuse and suffering caused to those in our Diocese and our Church as a result of homophobia or transphobia, which are inexcusable and deeply contrary to the love which lies at the heart of the Gospel.

“We all need to know that the conversations we have over these months will be as safe as is humanly possible.

“As a College, each one of us is absolutely clear that abuse, bullying and discrimination are profoundly contrary to the Gospel.”

Anyone with concerns around safeguarding or abuse is being encouraged to contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 020 7932 1224 or [email protected], or the Church of England’s national support service Safe Spaces on 0300 303 1056 or by email at safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk. Allegations of bullying should in the first instance be reported to the Area Bishop.



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