A row has erupted on social media after a Church of England priest called the Archbishop of Canterbury a "wanker" on Facebook over his stance on gay marriage.
Justin Welby, who was enthroned as the head primate of the Church of England in March, told the House of Lords earlier this month that allowing gay couples to marry would “diminish” Christian marriage and damage the fabric of society.
Angry over Welby's comments, Reverend Marcus Ramshaw said: ”What really upsets me is nasty people such as Justin Welby robbing me of my faith in the church, he does not speak in my name and I think he is a wanker, but im not going to stop being a christian or a priest.”
Ramshaw later deleted the comments after being confronted by the C of E's director of communications Reverend Arun Arora in private messages, an exchange which the Reverend Ramshaw published on his Facebook page.
Reverend Arora told Ramshaw: "I think any right-minded person would find a priest calling his archbishop an onanist to be utterly outrageous.”
An onanist is a man who masturbates.
However although Ramshaw admitted his choice of language was inappropritate, he defended his position, posting: "I am sorry that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed such a nasty, ill judged opinion on homosexual relations and he has divided the anglican church into bitterness and anger, his comments in the House of Lords were very harsh, in my fury at reading them I made a private friends facebook post calling him a wanker which i have now deleted and withdrawn at the behest of his director of communications, despite several other clergy liking that facebook post
"I accept that that term was wrong and for that I am sorry, but I hope he knows how much hurt he is doing to faithful, loyal Christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ."
Speaking to the Independent, Reverend Arora said: “I don’t think calling someone a ‘wanker’ is the best way of engaging. Whilst I am sure this will be water off a duck’s back for Archbishop Justin, I think it was right to challenge Marcus’ approach.”
Reverend Ramshaw said he had reported Arora to Facebook for his "threatening behaviour."