Church's 'institutional homophobia'
The Church of England still needs to overcome a "legacy of institutional homophobia and ignorance" nearly two years after the same-sex marriage law was passed in Britain, the Bishop of Buckingham has claimed.
The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson said it had taken "considerable courage" for gay clergy to marry since the historic change in law came into force this summer and congratulated couples who had married.
The married father-of-five, who has a long-standing interest in human rights and equality, recorded a Christmas Day message for gay news website Pink News, to be released in full tomorrow.
The bishop told the website: "Christians believe God is love and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
"But, you may say, churches have a funny way of showing that sometimes.
"We still have a legacy of serious institutional homophobia, inertia and ignorance to overcome.
"The fact is, however, where people dare to think things could be different, think things through without prejudice, there is hope."
He added: "Some gay clergy are now married.
"In very few years, people will wonder what the fuss was all about.
"But for now it's a path that calls for considerable courage and determination.
"So please spare a thought this Christmas for them.
"If you're the praying sort, do remember LGBTI people searching for hope at home in those churches that just don't get equality."
Dr Wilson, who became a bishop in 2003, has recently published a book in which he argues that allowing gay people to marry is a moral purpose.
The Church of England will not marry gay couples but it has advised its clergy to offer pastoral support to members of their congregation in same-sex marriages.
Clergy have been told not to enter same-sex marriages in guidance from the Church of England bishops but are allowed to enter into civil partnerships - although they must claim to be celibate if they wish to become bishops.