Same-sex pairings 'stunning', says new Archbishop Welby
As Justin Welby is enthroned at Canterbury, he praises 'stunning' quality of some gay relationships
JUSTIN WELBY, the former Bishop of Durham who will be enthroned today as Archbishop of Canterbury, has said he is "challenged" by loving same-sex relationships, despite his opposition to gay marriage.
The former oil executive told the BBC: "You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship." He added that he himself had "particular friends where I recognise that and am deeply challenged by it".
At the same time, Welby reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, saying: "The Church of England holds very firmly, and continues to hold to the view, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man to one woman."
He said the Church had to be "very clear about homophobia". Asked if the Church turns a blind eye to some gay relationships, he said: "It's not a blind eye - it's about loving people as they are and where they are.
"You'll find that in every church and you'll find that because it imitates the character and the practice of Jesus himself."
After human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote him an open letter on the subject, the Archbishop has replied by email suggesting that the two men meet to discuss the issue without the "mediation of the press".
Welby, who went to Eton and Cambridge, is married with five children. The 57-year-old had risen through the oil industry to become treasurer of Enterprise Oil when, at the age of just 34, he gave up a six-figure salary to train as a priest.
He was a vicar in Warwickshire before paralleling his oil career by rising rapidly through the ranks, becoming a canon of Coventry Cathedral, Dean of Liverpool and ultimately Bishop of Durham, in November 2011.
Speaking ahead of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral, to be attended by Prince Charles and Camilla, he told Sky News he was looking forward to meeting Pope Francis whom he described as "a great intellectual, but also an incredibly pastoral and simple, down-to-earth character". ·