Archbishop of York: ‘Our Father Is Problematic’ for Gender and Patriarchal Oppression

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has ignited a debate within the Church of England by describing the Lord’s Prayer as “problematic” due to its “oppressively patriarchal” reference to “Our Father.” Here’s the full story.

The Concern

Cottrell shared concern during a meeting of the Church’s ruling body, the General Synod, highlighting the need for unity in the Church.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have been a central part of Christian liturgy for nearly 2,000 years. However, Cottrell suggested that the use of “father” in the prayer could be divisive, particularly for those whose experiences with earthly fathers have been negative.

Cottrell said, “I know the word ‘father’ is problematic for those whose experience of earthly fathers has been destructive and abusive, and for all of us who have labored rather too much from an oppressively patriarchal grip on life.”

“We remain stubbornly unreconciled, appear complacent about division, and often also appear all too ready to divide again… We have got used to disunity. We think it’s normal when, in fact, it is a disgrace, an affront to Christ and all he came to give us,” he added.

Not Pastorally Aware

The Archbishop’s remarks prompted varied reactions within the Church.

Canon Dr. Chris Sugden, chair of the conservative Anglican Mainstream group, appeared to downplay Cottrell’s concerns, raising questions about whether the Archbishop was implying that Jesus was mistaken or lacked pastoral sensitivity.

Sugden proposed that certain church leaders might be influenced to a greater extent by contemporary culture rather than traditional scriptural interpretations.

A Live Issue for Christians

In contrast, Reverend Christina Rees, a campaigner for female bishops, supported Cottrell’s comments, saying that he had identified a live issue for Christians.

She asked, “The big question is, do we really believe that God believes that male human beings bear his image more fully and accurately than women? The answer is absolutely not.”

The Church of England has grappled with issues related to gendered language and inclusivity.

In February, Lambeth Palace announced the launch of a commission on gendered language, creating divisions within the Church.

The commission wanted to explore whether to stop referring to God as “he” and may propose gender-neutral terms for priests.

No Plans to Abolish

A spokesperson for the Church of England clarified that while there is interest in exploring new language, there are no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorized liturgies.

The spokesperson said, “Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship.”

The post Archbishop of York: ‘Our Father Is Problematic’ for Gender and Patriarchal Oppression first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

Sasha Salmaan is a highly regarded writer and political commentator, specializing in UK politics, international relations, and issues of freedom and liberty. With a keen analytical mind, Salimaan offers in-depth coverage and critical insights into the British and global political landscape.

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