The Archbishop of Canterbury says he is committed to tackling homophobic bullying but admits the Church of England “has to learn” from its historical hostility towards same-sex relationships.

On Monday, the Right Reverend Justin Welby launched a report on challenging homophobic bullying in Church of England schools.

“Bullying someone is always unacceptable and totally wrong,” the Archbishop told PinkNews as part of an exclusive interview to be published later this week.

“The Church has to learn from its past and to turn away from often using [homophobic] language”, he added.

Archbishop Welby spoke to PinkNews after meeting students at Trinity Lewisham, a Church of England school in south London.

The students told the Anglican leader of how the school takes a zero-tolerance approach to homophobic bullying.

Archbishop Welby said today’s report, which will help guide Church schools, fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.

He said: “Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying.

“Since then an enormous amount of work has gone into producing this guidance so that commitment can be turned into action. I am extremely grateful to all those who have worked so hard to produce it and I particularly want to thank the schools and young people who have contributed.

“Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God’s love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God’s children. This is a task we are called to share and I know it is one our schools take immensely seriously. I commend this guidance as a contribution to that work.”

In March, Archbishop Welby signalled the end of Church lobbying against the same-sex marriage act for England and Wales, but stressed that the Church’s opposition to the principle of equal marriage had not changed and that it would not be marrying same-sex couples.