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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 05:37 GMT
Churches warned over 'gay slurs'
Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Williams says anti-gay words must be repented
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for church traditionalists opposed to homosexuality to stop using inflammatory words about gay people.

Dr Rowan Williams, in a letter to the world's Anglican churches, said harsh language can lead to murder.

His comments come as the Church is embroiled in a bitter global row about the ordination of gay bishops.

Some traditionalist Anglican leaders strongly condemn homosexuality as being outlawed by the Bible.

According to The Sunday Times, Dr Williams has outlined his views to the Anglican faith's 43 self-governing churches.

His letter to them reportedly says: "Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent.

'Struggling disciples'

"Do not think repentance is always something others are called to, but acknowledge the failings we all share, sinful and struggling disciples as we are."

We stand at a point where the future shape and character of the communion depends on our choices
Dr Rowan Williams

Dr Williams, in his three-and-a-half page letter, said gay people felt condemned because of their sexuality and this had led to suicide.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said some traditionalists in England regard the letter as unfair.

He said they denied persecuting gay people but insisted they were simply upholding the faith passed on to them in the Bible.

'Serious consequences'

Elsewhere in the Church, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria has described homosexuality as "an aberration unknown even in animal relationships".

Dr Williams believes that there will be serious consequences worldwide if Anglicans do not heal their rift.

He wrote: "It is beyond doubt that we stand at a point where the future shape and character of the communion depends on our choices."

After taking office in 2003, Dr Williams supported gay priest Dr Jeffrey John being put forward as Bishop of Reading.

But after a furious backlash, the Archbishop persuaded him to withdraw. Dr John is now Dean of St Albans.

Archbishop rebukes anti-gay church traditionalists

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