A vicar has criticised plans to drape a giant rainbow flag from the steps of York Minster in solidarity with gay and transsexual rights, describing it as “provocative” and “offensive”.
The Rev Melvin Tinker, whose parish is within the Anglican Diocese of York, said that a senior cleric who is due to bless the city’s gay pride march when it passes the historic cathedral should be “ashamed of himself”, accusing him of endorsing “immoral action”.
“Would he say serial adulterers should be welcome in the church? Should he say that people who are engaged in paedophilia should be involved in the church?” Rev Tinker said.
“What he is basically saying is that in his opinion, this is a valid activity, whereas that’s exactly the point of contention.”
According to the Telegraph, when a presenter on Minster FM pressed Rev Tinker on whether he was likening homosexuality to paedophilia he responded: “What I’m saying is that if the category – we are talking about moral categories here – and if homosexual sex falls into the immoral category, then of it is in the same category as any other immoral action.”
The Rev Canon Michael Smith, the Canon Pastor of York Minster who is due to give the blessing, said he hoped it would help people “discover God’s love”. He will say a short prayer before a 50ft rainbow flag is draped from the cathedral’s steps.
But the Rev Tinker said he was “outraged that this should go on in the name of York Minster, in the name of Christianity, and in the name of the diocese”.
“It is just offensive for him actually to do that is provocative in the extreme.
“To do this in such a provocative way at this time is just going to be increasingly divisive within the Church and he ought to be ashamed of himself really, he knows better than this.”
However, the diocese swiftly distanced itself from Rev Tinker’s remarks. A spokeswoman called his comments “unhelpful”, while the Very Rev Vivienne Fuller, Dean of York, said: “York Minster’s invitation to everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work is extended to the entire community both inside and outside of the Minster.
“The Church of England is actively encouraging conversations around human sexuality and it is better to have those conversations with friends.”
Anglican clergy have begun adopted an increasingly modernist tone on homosexuality, often to the anger of more traditional worshippers.
In 2013, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, caused outrage when he said opponents of gay marriage were like people who supported slavery, prompting local MP Jon Glen to point out that his view would be “particularly offensive to those in black majority churches who do not share his view.”