Ely Diocesan Bishop defends flying of rainbow flag at cathedral

Sep 12, 2018 by

from the Diocese of Ely website:

Since returning from holiday in August, I have been aware that flying the rainbow flag on the Cathedrals West Tower has caused a great deal of comment. I therefore feel that I need to say something not only to those who are concerned but to the silent majority.

I am wary of flags in general. For fairly flimsy pieces of coloured cloth, they are freighted with emblematic power which may both rally and defy, embrace and exclude.

It has certainly become clear to me that the Cathedral flagpole became a lightning rod for debate among Christians. What started out as a pastoral response to a request for solidarity – to fly a rainbow flag from the west tower of Ely Cathedral on the day of the Ely Pride festival – has gathered interest and concern across the diocese and further afield.

I have received messages of upset and sadness from those concerned that this represents a divergence from the Churches teaching on marriage. I have also had a large number of comments from people who have appreciated the willingness of the Cathedral to stand alongside the LGBTQI+ community in what they regard as a prophetic way. There have been emails and letters not only from gay people themselves, but from the faithful Christian parents and grandparents of people who identify themselves as being LGBTQI+ and who are concerned for their physical safety as well as their human flourishing.

All of the conversations and messages expressing concern which I have received from people I know in the diocese have been sober and nuanced and offering a welcome to LGBTQI+ worshippers. I have also received entirely reprehensible and violently homophobic messages from others who call themselves Christians who yet show no desire to practise the radical call to love that Jesus taught and demonstrated- at least in the way they expressed themselves in their correspondence with me over the rainbow flag.

The flying of this particular flag on a particular day has not changed or threatened the teaching of the Church on marriage or diocesan policy. The official agreed understanding of the House of Bishops of the Church of England is expressed in Issues in Human Sexuality (1991). Every Ely ordinand has to read this and agree to operate within its precepts. This has stood for twenty-seven years and there is no plan to remove it.

Read here


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