A statement from the London College of Bishops
The London Bishops commend the Church of England’s Digital Charter, and encourage our communities to love, listen to and understand each other better.
When ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF) launched last year it was met with an array of emotions right across the Church of England. We saw hope, fear, joy, and scepticism in equal measure. For some who did not speak out, there will have been deep uncertainty about what LLF means both personally and for the wider Church.
The preparation for last November’s launch was years in the making. While, in order to stay faithful to all that work and effort, it seemed right not to delay any further due to COVID-19, it was never conceived that so much discussion and interaction on these issues would take place digitally, before face to face conversations became possible. During this last year the likes of Zoom and Twitter have provided a constant, ever-present heartbeat for our churches, but these channels also bring with them considerable challenges.
As a College, we have each decided at this time to sign up to the Church of England’s Digital Charter which can be found here: Our Digital Charter | The Church of England. We would encourage you to do the same. The values at the heart of that Charter, including truth, kindness and togetherness, are fundamental to LLF, to the conversations that are happening digitally, and to the discussions which will, in time, hopefully take place in person. It is legitimate to articulate the traditional position of the Church and it is legitimate to argue the case for change in the Church, but we are clear that bullying on the grounds of expressed theological difference is completely unacceptable. We also profoundly regret the considerable harm, abuse and suffering caused to those in our Diocese and our Church as a result of homophobia or transphobia, which are inexcusable and deeply contrary to the love which lies at the heart of the Gospel. We all need to know that the conversations we have over these months will be as safe as is humanly possible.
As a College, each one of us is absolutely clear that abuse, bullying and discrimination are profoundly contrary to the Gospel. Our safeguarding responsibilities are paramount and it is vital that everyone feels they can report abuse of any kind, present or historic, to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 020 7932 1224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anything reported will be treated with the utmost seriousness. Should you require confidential and professional support then you may also use the Church of England’s national support service Safe Spaces on 0300 303 1056, safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk. Allegations of bullying should in the first instance be reported to the Area Bishop.
Our real hope is that LLF can give us the opportunity to love, listen to and understand each other better with our theological convictions and in the diversity of our lived experience. The Pastoral Principles are a powerful tool in enabling us to do this and our hope is that they will shape every conversation around LLF in this Diocese. We pray that all who choose to engage with the process will do so with kindness, humility and profound grace.