Church caused untold harm to gay community, says Northern Ireland cleric
A leading Anglican cleric from Northern Ireland has claimed that the wider Christian church has played a part in marginalising members of the LGBT community.
Church of Ireland Canon Timothy Kinahan, Rector of Helen's Bay, stated in a letter to The Times that "many of us have come to the conclusion that, over the centuries, the Church has been complicit in causing untold harm to people whose sexuality was outside what was then considered the mainstream".
He added: "Harm to people harms the Body of Christ and also harms the whole body of society. It makes our faith harmful, which is inexcusable. Tradition isn't always right."
Speaking last night, Canon Kinahan added: "I feel strongly that the church in general, including the Church of Ireland, has marginalised people and in many ways has uncritically reflected the social norms of the day.
"My reading of the Gospel is that in today's society with the scientific understanding of sexual orientation, we can no longer regard homosexuality as an aberration, or a sickness or a sin.
"I also feel that there is an important principle whereby we should ask ourselves how we would like to be treated if we were gay.
"Jesus treated people as equal in the eyes of God and the law.
"I recognise that other Christians will disagree with this interpretation, and that part of the Christian journey is to learn to disagree yet to walk together in faith."
Canon Ian Ellis, the former editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, said: "The Church, while holding to the traditional doctrine that sexual relations are between one man and one woman, should be able to recognise that there are genuinely-held but different views.
"There is a divergence in attitudes, but people in the Church should never seek to hurt or harm one another or anyone else.
"Where two people of the same sex have entered into a civil marriage or partnership, they should be assured of a welcome in the worshipping life of the church and should not be barred from receiving Holy Communion. The official teaching of the Church of Ireland is that marriage is between one man and one woman."