The Presbyterian minister who welcomed the ‘Yes’ vote in the Republic’s same-sex marriage referendum has “fully accepted that marriage is to be between one man and one woman and that homosexual practice is sinful”.
Mrs Christina Bradley, of Armagh Road Presbyterian Church in Portadown, was the only cleric in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to welcome the 62 per cent majority, describing it as “inclusive and compassionate”.
On Sunday – after she had faced a special commission of the Armagh Presbytery – a statement from the Presbytery claimed that a report to the Portadown Times had been “open to misunderstanding”.
Sunday’s statement was read out by clerk of session Ivan Conner at the conclusion of the morning service, while Mrs Bradley sat impassively at the front of the church.
After the May referendum – which resulted in 62 per cent support for the issue – Mrs Bradley issued a statement to the Portadown Times that she welcomed the vote.
Sunday’s statement informed the Armagh Road parishioners that their minister had “no intention of bringing the church into disrepute”.
It went on to “affirm Mrs Bradley’s compassionate pastoral concern for people inside her congregation and in the wider community”.
It added, “The congregations of Armagh Presbytery seek to be places where all people are welcomed and cared for, including those with same sex attraction.
“The Presbytery reaffirms its belief in the brokenness and sinfulness of humanity and rejoices in the forgiveness and transforming grace freely given through Jesus Christ.”
When the Portadown Times originally asked Mrs Bradley for her views, she responded: “The referendum wasn’t a debate on the institution of marriage as the basis of human society as we know it, but about ending discrimination.
“Who is the state and who is the church in a democratic society? It is the people. The people (of the Republic) have voted by an overwhelming 62.1 per cent majority to be inclusive and compassionate.
“This warm-heartedness is good to see in a world which is often a cold place as much for women in leadership as it is for gay and lesbian people in churches. I welcome the yes vote.”
The Presbytery Commission was set up as a result of the statement – it was formed during the Presbyterian General Assembly in June and Mrs Bradley was consequently given a personal hearing.
Neither the Armagh Presbytery nor Mrs Bradley are making further comment.