According to the Church of England, there is "no official definition" of a woman.
When responding to a written question about the church's definition of a woman that was submitted to the General Synod, the church's legislative body, Dr. Robert Innes, the bishop in Europe, said, "There is no official definition," The Telegraph reports.
Replying as chairman of the church's Faith and Order Commission, Innes said the lack of an official definition "reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy."
According to The Telegraph, church officials are currently occupied with Living in Love and Faith (LLF), an ongoing project that seeks to explore how questions about identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage fit within the church.
"The LLF project, however, has begun to explore the marriage complexities associated with gender identity and points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God," Innes said.
The retired Rev. Angela Berners-Wilson, who was the first woman to be ordained as a priest in England in 1994, told The Telegraph that she’s "not totally happy" with the bishop’s answer.
“I do think certain things, like men can't have babies, just to say the complete obvious thing," Berners-Wilson said. "But I think we need to be very sensitive and maybe we need to reexamine our boundaries."
Jayne Ozanne, founder of the Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organizations around the world to eliminate prejudice and discrimination of LGBTQ people, called the question "passive aggressive."
"Mr. Kendy's question is sadly a prime example of a passive-aggressive question that is designed to upset the LGBT+ community and particularly the trans members in our midst," Ozanne said. "It's time these anti-LGBT attacks stopped and that we learnt to acknowledge that life is not quite as black and white as some appear to think it should be."
Maya Forstater, co-founder of Sex Matters, said "the concepts of male and female did not need to have a formal official definition" because "they are older than human life itself."
"When the Government redefined women through the Gender Recognition Act, the Church of England could have stuck with its long-established understanding, which makes sense whether your starting point is biology or the Bible," she told The Telegraph. "It is shocking that they so readily gave up the definition of man or woman for the state to amend, as if this fundamental truth did not matter."
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