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Putin’s attack on C of E is simply wrong, spokesman says

22 February 2023


President Putin delivers his address to Russian leaders on Tuesday

President Putin delivers his address to Russian leaders on Tuesday

PRESIDENT PUTIN’s assertion that Anglicans are planning to introduce “a gender-neutral God” is “simply wrong”, a church spokesman has said.

President Putin made the accusation in a two-hour speech to political and military leaders in Moscow on Tuesday, delivered to mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian leader blamed the West for the war and accused it of moral decadence.

“They distort historical facts, constantly attack our culture, the Russian Orthodox Church, and other traditional religions of our country,” he said.

“Look at what they do with their own peoples: the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, and the abuse of children are declared the norm. And priests are forced to bless same-sex marriages. . .

“The Anglican Church plans to consider the idea of a gender-neutral God. What can we say? God forgive them, they know not what they do. Millions of people in the West understand they are being led to a real spiritual catastrophe.”

The remarks were apparently inspired by a short discussion at General Synod earlier this month, where an update was requested from the Liturgical Commission about steps towards developing “more options” for those who wish to speak of God in a non-gendered way.

But the C of E spokesman said that Mr Putin’s claims were “simply wrong” and that there was “nothing new” in Christians’ belief that God was neither male nor female.

“As we have repeatedly said, there are absolutely no plans to consider a gender-neutral God. It is simply wrong to say that the Church of England is considering stopping using any particular terms for God, and there are also absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorised liturgies — and no such changes could be made without extensive legislation.”

In a written answer to the General Synod, the vice-chair of the Liturgical Commission, the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, said that the discussion on non-gender liturgy had been going on “for several years” between the Liturgical Commission and the Faith and Order Commission, and confirmed that “a new joint project on gendered language” would begin in the spring. “In common with other potential changes to authorised liturgical provision, changing the wording and number of authorised forms of absolution would require a full synodical process for approval,” he said.

Similarly, there has never been a suggestion that clergy should act against their conscience when asked to bless a same-sex couple.

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