Church & Ministries

Vicar ‘likens homosexuality to child abuse’ in Facebook comments

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The Voice of Hassocks/Wiki Commons – St Mark’s Church, Tunbridge Wells, whose vicar is Dr Peter Sanlon, who has been embroiled in a row over comments about homosexuality.

The vicar who has threatened the Church of England with a split over homosexuality has been embroiled in a row over comments he made appearing to compare a church-led Gay Pride event with child abuse.

Dr Peter Sanlon of St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells posted controversial remarks on Facebook saying that gay people would face “God’s Judgement” and said that the church Pride event was “pushing sexual boundaries” and would “damage the Church of England”.

The Mirror reported the comments, which were aimed at the Chichester diocese which has been the scene of controversy over child abuse, especially by the former bishop Peter Ball.

Sanlon wrote: “Given your diocese has one of the worst records on historic child abuse in the C of E, and even now has a special procedure of investigation to discover what went on and who in addition to the bishop currently in prison was involved, one would think your diocese would have the humility and wisdom to stop pushing sexual boundaries.”

The comments were described as “extremely damaging” by the LGBT charity Stonewall.

“These comments are extremely damaging and show extreme contempt for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people,” a Stonewall spokesperson said. “Fortunately we work with many faith leaders who support LGBT people and who are passionate about equality. Stonewall will continue to empower these people to share their stories, to help dispel the myth that you cannot be LGBT and of faith.”

At the weekend, Sanlon said: “If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve in to a new Anglican jurisdiction in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the church will not accept a change in the church’s teaching. This could be the beginning of that playing out.”

He went on: “I am not leaving the Church of England – but in order to stay, I need new partnerships and structures to discharge the mission of the Church of England, which is to bring the message of Christ to every postcode in England.”

The comments came in a Telegraph report which revealed that about 12 parishes from three counties in the south of England are meeting this week to show support for the Jerusalem Statement, the statement of faith drawn up by the conservative Anglican group Gafcon.

Gafcon subsequently welcomed the move.

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