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Archbishops sorry for 'sexual abstinence' statement

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Archbishop John Sentamu

Archbishop John Sentamu

Archbishop John Sentamu

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have apologised after the Church of England (CofE) declared only heterosexual married couples should have sex.

Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said they took responsibility for releasing the CofE statement last week which they acknowledged had "jeopardised trust".

The pastoral guidance was issued to clergy after a recent change in UK law allowed straight couples to tie the knot in a civil ceremony instead of a traditional marriage following a lengthy legal battle.

It said civil partnerships should be no more than "sexually abstinent friendships". The archbishops said in a statement: "We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust.

"We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused."

The CofE statement issued last week said: "With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church's teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged.

"For Christians, marriage, that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows, remains the proper context for sexual activity.

"In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently."

The pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, added: "Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God's purposes for human beings."

Belfast Telegraph