Bishop of Liverpool apologises for 'offence' after comments about conservative Anglicans

Bishop of Liverpool Paul BayesDiocese of Liverpool

The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, has apologised to traditionalist Anglicans for "the offence or distress" caused by comments made during an address in which he called for a "gender-neutral marriage canon".

On June 26, the day Bishop Bayes made his speech to LGBT group MoSAIC, the revisionist website Thinking Anglicans linked to the full text.

In it, the bishop took aim at "those conservative people who are always looking for a ditch to die in and who have chosen this one this time. Divorce, contraception, the place of women in ministry - all these are now yesterday's battles, though they were all the last ditch in their time.

"And now in our time to hear some talk you would think that sexuality in general, and same-sex relationships in particular, is the line that somehow God has always wanted us to draw in the sand so that the faithful and Godly may be identified, and the faithless and Godless may be condemned and paralysed from action and if necessary excluded."

Later he said: "I do want us to remain one church, and within that church for example I want to see the conscientious rights of conservative people preserved for them.

"But I don't want any longer to see the conscientious rights of progressive people, who believe the truth of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York when they ask for a radical NEW Christian inclusion, I don't want to see their consciences ignored and explained away and overridden and indeed criminalised by the power of conservative groups and people."

Ahead of elections this autumn to the Church of England's governing body, General Synod, Bishop Bayes told MoSAIC activists: "Inclusion is seamless, and I think MoSAIC understands that. So I want to see more people like you, and to encourage you, and to share with you the task of holding these values before the Church, and before the electors to the General Synod, and in the end before the world."

Within a week of his speech to MoSAIC, Bishop Bayes announced his retirement next March. He wrote to clergy and churchwardens: "I have informed the Queen and the Archbishop of York that I intend to resign the See of Liverpool and to retire at the beginning of March next year. God willing, my farewell service in the Cathedral will be on Saturday February 12, 2022."

Bishop Bayes has now issued a statement apologising for his comments to MoSAIC.

"Some days ago I gave a speech to the annual conference of the Movement of Supportive Anglicans for an Inclusive Church (MoSAIC). In it I made a number of substantive points to which I remain committed. I also made some passing remarks which clearly conveyed a lack of respect for those who think differently. I deeply regret that I did so. I have asked for the published text of my speech to be adjusted accordingly," he said.

"I am very sorry that these remarks have caused offence or distress to sisters and brothers in Christ whose views on the matters under discussion differ from my own. I gladly and freely apologise to them. I seek the forgiveness of all those to whom these remarks caused offence.

"I fully accept and regret that my own impatience has caused me on this occasion in the closing months of my ministry to overstep the limits of good manners, mutual respect and common courtesy. I am very sorry indeed that this has been the case."