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Tuesday, August 11, 1998 Published at 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK


Lambeth Conference condemns gays

Rev Duncan Buchanan spoke for the motion - and tolerance

Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference have condemned homosexuality.

The BBC's Emily Buchanan reports from the Lambeth Conference
The vote came after an afternoon of debate in which 750 clerics from all around the world, and all sides of the issue, decided whether the conference should condone or condemn homosexual practice.

The many varied opinions had been distilled into a single motion - upholding Chirstian values of marriage, but not condemning those who fall short of the ideal.

Canon David Gillit explains how the decision will be seen around the world
The conference's resolution is only advisory, but is seen as an important factor in forming opinion within the Anglican Church.

The essential question is whether the wording will be seen as an insult to gays or an acceptance of their sexual orientation without condoning it.

The bishop who chaired the sub-committee on the motion, Bishop of Johannesburg, Rev Duncan Buchanan, in proposing the motion to the conference, said:

[ image: Rt Rev Jack Spong proposed the motion]
Rt Rev Jack Spong proposed the motion
"There are people who are homosexual in orientation who seek as much love and compassion from the church as anyone else. God so loved the world, he doesn't just love the people of whom we approve."

Bishop Buchanan told the packed assembled clergy that the resolution did not condemn gays: "This resolution does not commend anything other than the traditional attitudes of marriage and chastity.

"Chastity means purity, love, gentleness and compassion in the married relationship and for the unmarried person chastity means celibacy."

"We do recognise nevertheless that there are people who are homosexual in orientation who need as much love and compassion from the church as anyone else. We cannot unbaptize these people and they are as precious to God as any of us."

The motion attempts to find a way round the issue, but many gay supporters and anti-gay hardliners have said it is "wishy washy".

[ image: Rev Peter Adebiyi condemned homosexuality]
Rev Peter Adebiyi condemned homosexuality
Consequently there were many amendments to the motion.

Rev Peter Adebiyi, Bishop of Owo in Nigeria, said the issue was not even worthy of debate:

"In the new testament the Lord Jesus Christ himself says a man shall leave his father and his mother and he shall cling to his wife, and they shall become one."

World impact

Canon David Gillit, principal of the Trinity Theological College in Bristol, told BBC News that, although it is not a ruling body, the conference's decision would be influential.

He said it was important to note that the many bishops from Western countries represent a relatively small number of people compared to bishops from Asia and Africa.

Canon Gillit said that for this reason the conference could not be seen as imposing its decision on the church throughout the world.

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