Church of England Bishops ‘too scared’ to openly back LGBT inclusion, gay vicar says
A married gay vicar who is stepping down due to “institutional homophobia” has said that bishops are too scared to back LGBT inclusion.
Popular London vicar Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain, a member of the Church of England General Synod, announced last week that he would be quitting his role.
The vicar caused controversy in 2014 when he defied Church of England rules by marrying his same-sex partner, in defiance of a ban on gay clergy weddings.
He has come under repeated fire from hardline evangelicals, who ‘named and shamed’ him in a list of clergy they wanted removed.
Fr Foreshew-Cain announced he would be resigning from the Church this week as he plans to relocate to Manchester. Due to his marriage, Foreshew-Cain is allegedly on a “blacklist” which means he would be unable to get a license to officiate in a diocese outside London.
Speaking to Guardian, the clergyman accused church higher-ups of supporting LGBT-inclusivity in private, but kowtowing to homophobes in public.
He said: “I have no sympathy for bishops who privately say: ‘Actually, I really support you and I want to see a church in which we can celebrate gay and lesbian relationships, but I can’t say that in public because I’ll get attacked for it.’
“They hide behind a call to ‘unity’ [within the church], but they are collaborating with homophobia and hurt. And, sadly, that’s true of most bishops.”
He suggested that many bishops remain in the closet for the same reason they suppress pro-LGBT views.
Foreshew-Cain said: “Bishops are too scared about what would be done to them – people on the conservative wing would attack them so vigorously. The conservatives have been given so much freedom and weight.
“The number of super-conservative puritans is relatively small but, for fear of them, they have been given a weight of influence and regard way beyond their numbers.”
Last year the Bishop of Grantham became the first Church of England bishop to come out as being in a same-sex relationship.
Bishop Nichoas Chamberlain came out in an interview with the Guardian after a rival newspaper threatened to out him, but claimed it was “no secret” he has been in a long-term celibate relationship for many years.
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However, the watershed moment did not ease the way for others.
The Church was marred by controversy after gay priest Jeffrey John, currently the Dean of St Albans, was again blocked from becoming a bishop.
The priest’s repeatedly-blocked appointment is a bone of contention in the Church. His name has been put forward a number of times for vacancies, but opposed by the Church’s evangelical anti-LGBT wing.
Foreshew-Cain’s churches in Kilburn and West Hampstead has become a home to many LGBT Christians in London due to his inclusive-led approach.
He took a very public approach to his LGBT activism, flying rainbow flags from the top of his church.
Following the Orlando massacre last year, he put a moving memorial at the heart of the church.
The vicar was also previously condemned by evangelical groups for putting up “keep calm and support equal marriage” signs while the issue was being debated.