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  Life   More Features  08 May 2019  Gay priest to lead LGBTQ campaign in Church of England

Gay priest to lead LGBTQ campaign in Church of England

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 8, 2019, 12:18 pm IST
Updated : May 8, 2019, 12:19 pm IST

The gay priest who was ousted post his marriage, returns to the clergy after 2 years.

The youth view the church as a backward institution and are now inclining towards progressive Anglicanism. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)
 The youth view the church as a backward institution and are now inclining towards progressive Anglicanism. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)

London: The Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain was a vicar at the St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James’ in West Hampstead for around two decades, but was forced to leave his post in 2017, reported The Guardian. His only crime was marrying the man he loved, Stephen, in 2014.

The church let him keep his vicar position for three years after his wedding, but was unceremoniously asked to resign in 2017. Post-his wedding, he was “blacklisted” from finding another job and when he officially resigned from the church in 2017, he condemned the church, calling it “institutionally homophobic”.

 

This is a very discriminatory move from the church as heterosexual priests can marry and indulge in sexual intercourse, but if the priest is homosexual, he is expected to remain unmarried and celibate. “Insisting on celibacy,” the Reverend argues, “[implies that] God will only accept you if you don’t have sex; that is, if you don’t want what everybody wants, which is to be loved by somebody and to love them on their terms.” “I think that is abusive,” he added.

Since being ousted from the church, the Reverend spent his time resorting a neglected Georgian house. But now, he is returning to the ministry. From autumn, he will take on the role of chaplain of Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University. “It feels as if I’m ready to become a priest again, but a different kind of priest, perhaps,” said Foreshew-Cain.

 

Foreshew-Cain’s return to the clergy may witness campaigns for inclusion of LGBTQ clergy members. The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England advocates for the right of lesbian and gay Anglicans to marry in their local parish. The Reverend is expected to demand rights for gay clergymen too. “This can dictate the future of Church of England in British society,” he said.

A survey by British Social Attitudes says only 2% of young Britons identify with the Church of England. The youth view the church as a backward institution and are now inclining towards progressive Anglicanism. “We’re not losing people because they no longer believe in God. We’re losing people because they no longer believe in the church,” said Foreshew-Cain. “Unless the Church of England can be enthusiastic in its welcome of gay and lesbian people, and their families and friends, too, we don’t stand a chance,” he added.

 

Foreshew-Cain never planned on being a priest. At 19, became involved in the Christian Union and two years later in University, he met his first boyfriend. He said that his vicar then, never discouraged his relationship. “I never faced any homophobia about it,” he said. “The Church of England feels very different as an organisation now to how it felt when I was first in the church. The sort of progressive liberalism that dominated the church from the 1950s has been replaced by a kind of much more self-confident evangelicalism, which is often very conservative,” noted Foreshew-Cain.

The Church of England was unhappy about gay activism and liberation even after the partial decriminalisation of same-sex intimacy in 1967. The growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community forced the church to accept it and in 1991, it published the Issues in Human Sexuality, a document, which treads a delicate line between compassion for and acceptance of “homophiles” within the church.

 

Now, Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change. But it is high time for a change in the mindsets. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense,” he concluded.

Tags: reverend, clerygy, lgbtq, church of england, gay marriage