| 6.7°C Belfast

Welby pleads for reconciliation


Latest religion news

Latest religion news

Latest religion news

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the Church of England to overcome fears about the introduction of women bishops and divisions over the treatment of gay people.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said there must be a "massive" cultural change within the Church of England to accept disagreement and build love and trust between opposing groups.

In a presidential address to the General Synod, he rejected claims that living with different opinions amounted to something "comfortable and soft and wishy-washy".

"This sort of love, and the reconciliation between different groups that it implies, is not comfortable and soft and wishy-washy," he said.

"It is exceptionally hard-edged, extraordinarily demanding and likely to lead in parts of the world around us to profound unpopularity and dismissal."

The archbishop's remarks were made after the Church of England voted to fast-track legislation yesterday which could mean the first woman bishop is selected by the end of the year.

The legislation is thought to be on course for final approval in July after intensive negotiations following the defeat of the plans in November 2012 at the General Synod.

The Church of England is also bracing itself for further division after a review published in November of church policy on human sexuality headed by Sir Joseph Pilling recommended allowing priests to conduct public services "to mark the formation of permanent same-sex relationships".

Archbishop Welby said the findings of the Pilling review had sparked fears amongst both traditionalists and pro-gay opinion within the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

"There is great fear among some here and around the world that the Pilling report will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to put too strong a word on it," Archbishop Welby said.

"And there is also great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that will be seen as akin to racism.

"Both these fears are alive and well in this room today.

"When we work to overcome fear, and to bring society closer together we can make a real difference."

Speaking to General Synod later about his report, Sir Joseph warned the Church of England against "sticking our heads in the sand" over the issue of human sexuality and same sex relationships.

"However much many of us would prefer to avoid the subject, there are wider implications for mission if we simply appear to be sticking our heads in the sand.

"After two years of work the members of the group would say that there is no one who has nothing to learn by talking and listening and that most of us have rather a lot to learn. The time for ostriches is past on this subject."