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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Cathedral 'bans' gay group
Manchester Cathedral
The cathedral agreed to host the service five months ago
A lesbian and gay Christian group says it is "horrified" after being told it cannot hold a service at Manchester Cathedral.

Organisers at the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) have been told permission to hold a special worship at the cathedral for its members has been withdrawn.

The group was due to hold a service for delegates at a conference it has booked at Manchester University.

But leaders at Manchester Cathedral say the booking was cancelled because of "sensitivities" over "current debates" in the Church of England.

The LGCM planned to hold the service for those visiting its Halfway to Lambeth conference on 26 October.

When we try to lift our voices in adoration of God, we are to be silenced
Richard Kirker
LGCM
Richard Kirker, general secretary at the LGCM, said: "Prayer and praise are the joyful duty of all God's people and along with all Christian organisations forms the bedrock of our gathering.

"It is horrifying to think that any person, no matter what their views on human sexuality, might welcome this ban on what is a sacred obligation for all Christians.

"The Anglican Communion is committed to listen to lesbian and gay people - yet it seems even when we try to lift our voices in adoration of God - we are to be silenced."

The movement says it wants the cathedral to reconsider its decision.

A statement issued by the cathedral, said: "The Manchester Cathedral Chapter, with the support of the Bishop's Senior Staff, has reluctantly withdrawn its permission for LGCM to use Manchester Cathedral for a conference service.

'Moral claim'

"It has done so in the light of sensitivities and timing in relation to the current debates in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

"The Cathedral Chapter and the Bishop's Senior Staff regard LGCM as a legitimate Christian organisation, and its commitment to greater inclusivity as a proper moral claim on church and society - and wish it well in its forthcoming conference."

Recent debates were sparked by the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John, who is gay, as the Bishop of Reading.

He later said he would not take up the post after weeks of bitter argument within the Anglican Church about whether or not he should be allowed to hold the position, because of his sexuality.

In July, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams renewed his calls for unity in the Church of England.

He called for more tolerance in his first speech as Anglican leader to the Church's General Synod, its governing body.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Pigott
"Traditionalists say the cathedral should never have agreed to the service"



SEE ALSO:
Gay protest disrupts Synod
12 Jul 03  |  UK


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