Church of England accused of ignoring gay Christians

The Church of England has been accused by 14 retired bishops of ignoring the voices of gay Christians after the church released a new report on sexuality.

(REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett)Church-goers arrive for a Christmas carol service at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England, December 23, 2009.

In an open letter, 14 retired bishops said there are no "authentic voices" of the gay community within the Church of England. The former bishop of Worcester, Rev. Peter Selby, said the situation has left some people feeling betrayed, the BBC relays.

"Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in [the House of Bishops] report, we do not hear its authentic voice," the retired bishops said in the open letter. "The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for a change in tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction."

The new report was published after the Church spent three years having conversations with members of the LGBT community. Rev. Selby said the people who participated in the conversations have been through difficult experiences due to their sexuality, and that the details in the report which might describe what the LGBT people want are not "accurate."

The open letter comes a couple of days before the general synod's Wednesday debate on homosexuality and other issues. Last month, the Church released its official report on sexuality which maintained that the institution should stick to the traditional definition of marriage.

The Church of England, on the other hand, said the conversations never aimed to change the view of either the participants or other parties. Instead, the discussions sought to "recognise Jesus in the face, story and view of those with whom they disagree."

The Church's decision to uphold traditional teachings on marriage has sparked anger among gay rights campaigners. Graham James, the bishop of Norwich, spoke at a press conference and announced that the church should not mold its doctrine according to the "fashions of any particular time," The Guardian reports.

Nevertheless, James explained that church law should be interpreted in such a way that gay and lesbian Christians could still have "maximum freedom" without the need to change the doctrine.