Editorial: An ambiguous Archbishop

On one hand Welby represents a church with a conservative stance on marriage, on the other he has expressed support for gay relationships

Share

At his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday, Justin Welby did his best to indicate the breadth of concerns he believes the Church of England should espouse, from politics to poverty to the needs of the vulnerable and the bereaved. The Church must take risks, he announced, and he tried to live up to his call with a service containing a number of innovations – not least in that it saw the leader of the Anglican Church enthroned by a woman for the first time in history.

But the test for many, particularly fellow citizens who are not members of his Church, will be the extent to which he can address those issues of equality on which the Church has lagged behind secular society. On these, in particular on matters of sexuality, the Archbishop must also take risks.

So far, the signals have been mixed. On one hand, as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion – with liberal voices from the US and deeply conservative ones from Africa – he has announced his intention to stick to the official church line that marriage is between a man and a woman. On the other hand, however, Dr Welby has said in an interview that he acknowledges that some gay couples have relationships of “stunning quality” and has agreed to meet the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to discuss the issue of equal marriage.

Some will raise their eyebrows at such ambiguity. Holding to one view as church leader, while indicating a personal openness to the opposing position, smacks a little of wanting to have it both ways. Perhaps, though, Dr Welby knows that changing views within the Anglican Communion is akin to turning an oil tanker – a process that is long and requires a certain delicacy at the wheel. The fact that one of Britain’s leading evangelicals, the Rev Steve Chalke of the Oasis Trust, recently changed his mind on blessing gay partnerships suggests that at least some in the Church of England are coming about on the issue. It can only be hoped that the new Archbishop will, too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star