The message from the Queen, in her role as the head of the Church of England, came as the archbishop of Canterbury the Rev Justin Welby and senior bishops struggled to reach a compromise on the recurring social issue of the church’s official position on same-sex marriage.
After prolonged heated debates between the various bishops, Archbishop Welby significantly asserted that the “majority view” within the global Anglican Communion remained, in Biblical interpretation, that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman.
However, the archbishop, after stating that same-sex relationships are “incompatible with scripture”, made it clear he would not punish Anglican provinces which carry out same-sex weddings.
The Church of Ireland, like the Church of Wales, the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and the Episcopal Church of America, are represented in the world Anglican Communion.
The Welsh, Scottish, and American churches take a liberal view on same-sex marriage, but the Church of Ireland, like the Irish Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches, all adhere to the traditional Biblical standpoint.
Most Anglican provinces in Africa, Asia, and Australia are strongly conservative and are opposed to same-sex marriage.
Archbishop Welby upheld the validity of a 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that “legitimising or blessing same-sex unions” cannot be advised.
“I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so,” he added.
Archbishop Welby is due to retire in 2026 and, with the Lambeth Conference not due to meet again for a decade, the same-sex marriage issue is unlikely to re-surface until 2032, at least.
The Lambeth Conference was established in 1920 as a body representing the various Anglican church provinces across the world.
The Queen’s letter, meanwhile, diplomatically avoided reference to same-sex marriage; instead she took a spiritual view on the environment.
“[We] live in a time when the effects of climate change are threatening the lives and livelihoods of many people and communities, not least the poorest and those less able to adapt,” she said.
“Throughout my life, the message and teachings of Christ have been my guide and in them I find hope.
“It is my heartfelt prayer that you will continue to be sustained by your faith in times of trial and encouraged by hope at times of despair.”