Justin Welby: Same sex ceremonies a balancing act for Church of England

Archbishop of Canterbury says all of world's 77 million Anglicans wishes need to be respected on the issue of same sex ceremonies

Jack Simpson
Sunday 20 April 2014 13:59

The blessing of same sex partnerships will be difficult in the Church of England, as the action might endanger the global Anglican movement, according to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The former bank chief turned clergyman said that while the introduction of same sex ceremonies in The Church of England might bring joy to many Lesbian and Gay couples, there was also a risk that it could alienate those Anglicans in areas of the world that see homosexuality as a sin.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph Welby said: "We are struggling with the reality that there are different groups around the place that the church can do – or has done – great harm to,"

Welby addressed the need to listen to the Anglican Lesbian and Gay community and make attempts to ensure that their wishes and beliefs could be accommodated in the Church of England.

"You look at some of the gay, lesbian, LGBT groups in this country and around the world – Africa included, actually – and their experience of abuse, hatred, all kinds of things. We must both respond to what we've done in the past and listen to those voices extremely carefully. Listen with love and compassion and sorrow. And do what is possible to be done, which is not always a huge amount."

These words come after Welby began discussions looking into whether providing informal same sex ceremonies in The Church of England might be feasible.

Nevertheless, despite Welby's desire to push the Anglican church forward in terms of the LGBT community, he saw it as a difficult balancing act trying to secure the rights and wellbeing of the homosexual community with the the rights and wellbeing of those that find homosexuality impossible to deal with.

He said: "There are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue an almost impossible one to deal with. How do you hold those two things [in balance] and do what is right and just by all? And not only by one group that you prefer and that is easier to deal with? That's not acceptable."

Welby focused mainly on Africa, where 43 million of the 77 million Anglicans live, when talking about ensuring balance.

In many parts of Africa homosexuality is considered a sin. A month ago, The Church of Uganda said that they may split from the Church of England if it passed through a bill that allowed for same sex ceremonies. A place with a large Anglican community, homosexuality is illegal in the central African state and can be punishable by death.

Welby emphasised that he was placing his faith in the church's consultations, saying: "How you do something has to be thought through very carefully. That's why we get into the conversations, the thinking, which is what we are doing at the moment and which I don't want to pre-empt."

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