Anglican minister issues explanation after criticism over 'gay' Prince George remarks

An Anglican minister who has come under fire from the church community for his comments on the sexuality of Prince George has issued a statement expressing regret and offering clarification of what he said.

(REUTERS / Richard Pohle / Pool)Prince George holds his father Britain's Prince William's hand as he arrives on his first day of school at Thomas's school in Battersea, London, September 7, 2017.

Several days ago, reports surfaced that Kevin Holdsworth had urged Christians to pray that Prince George would grow up to be gay to raise more support for same-sex marriage in the Anglican Church. This sparked anger among the church community, and on Dec. 1, the Anglican minister released a statement explaining that it was not his intention to hurt anyone with his comments, Sky News relayed.

In his controversial remarks, Holdsworth had suggested that Christians could pray that God would grant the young prince "with a love, when he grows up, of a fine young gentleman." It is worth noting that Holdsworth's comments were written more than two years ago in a blog entry that explored the ways Christians could rally support for same-sex marriage in the Church.

In his clarificatory statement, Holdsworth explained that the blog post was about the Church of England's policies concerning LGBT individuals.

"The post was entirely about the church and its policies around LGBT inclusion," said Holdsworth. He later on added: "The debate about the church and sexuality will go on. I'm not interested in continuing it through a conversation about Prince George."

When the reports about Holdsworth's remarks came out, Christian Episcopal Church missionary bishop Gavin Ashenden told the BBC that such a wish for Prince George was "unkind and destructive." He said such comments only used the young royal as "a gender-political football" instead of considering his best interests, TIME detailed.

Netizens, especially those from the right-wing, were also quick to react to the controversial remark. One Twitter user denounced the practice of pressuring a child to be gay and said it would have the same harmful effect if someone were to push another person to be straight.