Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby criticises political attempts to 'force same-sex marriage' on Church of England

​The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of being "threatened with parliamentary action" in an attempt to "force same-sex marriage" into the Church of England.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin WelbyArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of being "threatened with parliamentary action" in an attempt to "force same-sex marriage" into the Church of England.

Speaking at a global Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Ghana, Justin Welby also said that "many" members of the General Synod have "dismissed" his concerns about recent reforms.

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The archbishop's comments come after the General Synod - the Church of England's legislative assembly - passed a motion to allow the blessing of same-sex couples in civil partnerships earlier this month.

In his presidential address to the 18th plenary of the ACC, Mr Welby said that "rules about sexuality in the Church of England" have been tabled for discussion as a "result" of growing atheism in the UK.

He told those at the meeting, held in the Ghanian capital Accra, that in the global north, Christian values of "community and mutual responsibility" have been "almost eliminated" in favour of "individualism".

Mr Welby said that when he has been approached by Christians who fear that Islam would "take over Europe", he told them the "greater danger" is posed by a growing number of atheists, who he refers to as "nones".

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"I don't mean N-U-N-s," he said. "I mean those who when asked about their faith, say: 'None. I have no faith'.

"The result is clear. In the last few weeks, as part of our discussions about sexuality and the rules around sexuality in the Church of England, I talked of our interdependence with all Christians, not just Anglicans, particularly those in the global south with other faith majorities.

"As a result I was summoned twice to Parliament, and threatened with parliamentary action to force same-sex marriage on us, called in England equal marriage.

"When I speak of the impact that actions by the Church of England will have on those abroad in the Anglican communion, those concerns are dismissed by many, not all, but by many in the General Synod."

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Mr Welby said that in the Church of England, archbishops do not chair the General Synod or organise its debates.

"In the UK and in many parts of Europe the majority of people now belong to no faith at all," he said.

"They are not Christians, they are not Muslims, they are not pagans, they are not Jews, they are not Hindus. They do not belong."

The archbishop also appeared critical of movements towards greater bodily autonomy and assisted suicide.

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"We are in a completely different culture in the financially richer world, to where we were 30 years ago," he said.

"We've replaced morality and Christian faith with personal control over our bodies. Birth with genetically-designed babies is not far away.

"And death is something that so many believe we have a right to choose in the way and at the time we want.

"Even my predecessor but one, George Carey, has spoken strongly in favour of assisted suicide in the Houses of Parliament - in the House of Lords.

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"Modern European global north morality is a morality for the wealthy, the powerful and the intellectually well-educated, it is a morality that does not believe in human sinfulness and failure.

"It does not believe in forgiveness, it does not believe in hope.

"This is where the Church struggles."

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