Four bishops in the diocese of Lichfield have issued new guidance to parishioners and clergy reminding them that LGBT people "can be called to roles of leadership and service in the local church," the paper said.
What does the guidance say?
The guidance — titled "welcoming and honoring LGBT+ people" — laments the church's reputation as unwelcoming toward gay and transgender people as a primary reason young people aren't attending services and becoming involved in the church, the Telegraph said.
"We very much hope that [LGBT+ people], like everyone else, feel encouraged to serve on [parochial church councils] or as churchwardens and worship leaders, for instance, and are supported in exploring vocations to licensed lay and ordained ministries," the guidance indicates, the paper reported. "Nobody should be told that their sexual or gender identity in itself makes them an unsuitable candidate for leadership in the Church."
The guidance also warns against "questioning ... someone’s sexual practices or desires, or their experience of gender," the Telegraph reported, adding that it's "almost always inappropriate."
In addition, clergy may not "tell or insinuate to people that sexual orientation or gender identity will be changed by faith or that homosexuality or gender difference is a sign of immaturity or a lack of faith," the guidance says, according to the paper.
"As Archbishop Justin has made clear, the perception that the Church is homophobic and transphobic is harming our mission, especially to young people," the guidance says, according to the Telegraph. "We need to challenge this perception by reaching out to LGBT+ people with the good news of God’s love, modeling God’s welcome and care for all people."
Priests and bishops in the Church of England are allowed to enter civil partnerships but not same-sex marriages, the paper said, adding that they are allowed to enter into same-sex relationships as long as they remain celibate.
How did one progressive group within the church respond to the move?
OneBodyOneFaith, which advocates for LGBT inclusion in the Church of England, told the paper the guidance is "encouraging."
Canon Peter Leonard, the organization's chair of Trustees, told the Telegraph he hopes the guidance will "send a very strong signal to LGBT+ people that they’re welcomed and valued on equal terms with our brothers and sisters. And to those who seek to treat us as a problem, to harm and dismiss us and deny our gifts and callings – that their behavior will no longer be tolerated."
What else has the Church of England been up to?
A Church of England diocese defended one of its churches that hosted a joint “celebration” of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, Christ's Advent and Christmas last December.
A senior minister in the Church of England last year urged people to pray for Prince George to be gay and to “bless” him the love “of a fine young gentleman” when he grows up.
The Church of England’s General Synod last summer passed a motion on welcoming transgender people that includes supporting a call for the House of Bishops to consider preparing liturgical materials to “mark a person’s gender transition."