Church: perfect in all its imperfections

The Bishop of Bath & Wells has reflected on divisions affecting the Church of England in his final presidential address to Diocesan Synod.

Bishop Peter Price said conflicts over issues like sexuality and women bishops had too often caused Anglicans to view fellow believers as enemies.

Instead, he said they should explore ways of staying committed to their principles while reaching out and finding common cause with those who have different beliefs from them.

"What is for sure is that the methods that we are employing are not finding common cause, and we are alienating many people," he said.

"Sexuality, ordination and other ecclesial subjects are not 'fundamentals'. Love, compassion and humility are."

Reflecting on his first-hand experience of reconciliation and peacemaking work in Northern Ireland, Bishop Price said it was the absence of love, compassion and humility that had characterised the Troubles.

"What made the peace process possible was not debate, but listening," he said.

Bishop Price retires on 22 June after more than a decade in the role. He said that over the years he had found the perfect church to be "perfect in all its imperfections".

"I will shortly move from the front benches to the time honoured back pews of my local Church of England. I am not looking for it to be perfect. I know, however, that it is good," he said.

"I don't plan, immediately at least, to offer my services for theirs, or anyone else's services. I am looking forward to a time of just 'being in church'."

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