Bishop 'urges gays to repent and be changed'

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The Independent Online

A Church of England bishop urged homosexuals to "repent and be changed", it was reported today.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said people who stray from traditional Bible teachings "do not share the same faith".

Dr Nazir-Ali spoke after more than half a million people, including the Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown, took to the streets of London yesterday to celebrate gay culture at the annual Pride festival.

His controversial comments also come ahead of the launch in the UK and Ireland of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a coalition of conservative parishes from around the world.

The evangelical group, which campaigns against active homosexuality in the Anglican communion, counts Dr Nazir-Ali among its supporters.

The bishop, who is stepping down from his post in September, told the newspaper: "We want to uphold the traditional teaching of the Bible. We believe that God has revealed his purpose about how we are made.

"People who depart from this don't share the same faith. They are acting in a way that is not normative according to what God has revealed in the Bible.

"The Bible's teaching shows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the way to express our sexual nature.

"We welcome homosexuals, we don't want to exclude people, but we want them to repent and be changed."

He added: "We want to hold on to the traditional teaching of the Church. We don't want to be rolled over by culture and trends in the Church. We want a movement for renewal. We need a reformation of the Church and the life of the Communion."

Derek Munn, director of public affairs for gay rights group Stonewall, criticised Dr Nazir-Ali's comments.

He told the paper: "It is unfortunate that in 2009, a church leader should continue to promote inequality and intolerance.

"Stonewall knows that most people of faith are accepting of lesbian and gay people. We also know that many lesbian and gay people who are themselves religious believers are not well served by some of those who claim to speak on their behalf."