The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby fought back tears last night as he rebuked ‘outsiders’ trying to force the Church of England to change its teaching in regard to marriage and blessings services for gay couples.
The Synod – known as the church’s parliament – is considering a motion which repents for the church’s failure ‘to be welcoming to LGBTQI+ people’ by introducing proposals for clergy to bless same-sex couples.
Within the proposals, the position on gay marriage will not change and same-sex couples will still be unable to marry at church.
At a debate last night, members rejected 16 attempts to change the proposal to offer blessings for same-sex couples.
They will return this morning to complete the final vote.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke passionately at the Synod last night
Justin Welby referenced being held hostage in Nigeria during his speech
The Archbishop is in favour of offering blessings to same-sex couples
Thus far bishops have rejected calls for vicars to conduct same-sex weddings but have apologised for the homophobia people have suffered in the church and suggested that new blessing services should be allowed.
However some traditionalists say this goes too far and will fear that the proposed introduction of gender-neutral language is another example of the church attempting to boost dwindling congregations as young people increasingly stay away.
An emotional Most Rev Justin Welby – who backs blessings for gay couples- criticised politicians who want to force through the church’s acceptance of gay marriage.
Both Labour’s Ben Bradshaw and the Conservatives’ Chris Loder have suggested they’d consider using legislation against the church to force its hand in allowing gay marriage.
Drawing on his own experiences being held hostage for his beliefs in Nigeria where he would be ‘killed in the morning’, Welby passionately defended the members of the Anglican Communion standing by their beliefs.
Welby had already said last month that he welcomes the proposals but will not personally carry them out due to his ‘pastoral responsibility for the whole communion’.
Welby has said he would not personally carry out changes due to his ‘pastoral responsibility for the whole communion’
Labour’s Ben Bradshaw has intimated he would look to legislation to force the change
During the debate, he added: ‘I am supporting these resources, not I think because I’m controlled by culture, but because of scripture, tradition and reason evidenced in the vast work done over the last six years so ably by so many. I may be wrong. Of course I may.
‘But I cannot duck the issue any more than anyone else here.
‘I ask each member of Synod to vote with their spirit-inspired consciences, scripturally or spiritually guided, and not because groups or lobbies or outsiders have told you to.
‘I have heard them over the last two weeks in Parliament and being told exactly what to do, I’m not doing any of it.
‘This isn’t something I take lightly.
‘There is nothing in my life or heart or prayers that comes as high as the safety and flourishing of the people I love in the Anglican communion.’