New dean feels ‘no ill will’ towards Lord Tebbit following controversial ‘sodomite’ comment
PUBLISHED: 22:03 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:56 15 May 2018
The recently appointed Dean of St Edmundsbury has offered an olive branch to Lord Tebbit after the Tory peer said he would boycott services conducted by the dean he labelled a ‘sodomite’.
Lord Tebbit, 87, sparked outrage on Sunday by saying he will no longer visit the cathedral, close to his home in Bury St Edmunds, for services Rev Canon Joe Hawes will conduct.
However Canon Hawes, 52, who is in a civil partnership with Rev Chris Eyden, the vicar at All Saints’ in Putney, said he feels ‘absolutely no ill will’ towards Lord Tebbit following his controversial comments.
Canob Hawes is set to be installed as dean at a service at Bury St Edmunds Cathedral on Saturday, July 14.
Lord Tebbit, former chairman of the Conservative Party and an outspoken critic of the introduction of same-sex marriages in 2014, had said he disapproved of the decision to appoint Canon Hawes but made clear he didn’t want to damage the cathedral in any way and would continue his financial support for the institution.
He said: “I stand by what is written in the Bible, which is the basis on which the cathedral was built.
“It says the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God.
“It cannot be a sin to be born homosexual. It is what one is. “What I can’t accept is the activity.
“I use the expression sodomite.”
On hearing Lord Tebbit’s comments, Canon Hawes said although he thinks the ‘Church and the world have moved on’ from that type of language he still looked forward to meeting Lord Tebbit and his wife in the future.
He said: “We feel absolutely no ill will towards Lord Tebbit for his comments. The messages of support we have received from St Edmundsbury and Fulham testify to the extent to which the Church and the world have moved on from a place where such language has any relevance.
“I have always admired the way in which Lord Tebbit has cared for his wife with such devotion following the Brighton bomb and I have been looking forward to getting to know them when I arrive in St Edmundsbury and offering what support I could.”
John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, added: “Under pastoral guidance issued in 2005 it has been clear for more than a decade that clergy are entitled to be within civil partnerships.”