Archbishop of Canterbury: blessing gay marriage would split Church

Justin Welby suggests accepting gay marriage would mean the Church would be unable to help other victims of oppression

LAST UPDATED AT 10:58 ON Sat 19 Apr 2014

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said he cannot provide blessings for gay marriages because to do so would split the global Anglican Church. However, the Most Rev Justin Welby’s words have been seized upon by one bishop, who questioned whether the unity of the Church was worth maintaining under these circumstances.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Archbishop illustrated the problem by talking about a recent visit he made to South Sudan.

There, he witnessed the mass funeral of dozens of Christians following a massacre. But even in this emotional situation, the Archbishop was taken to task by local religious leaders about gay marriage and told that if he ever blessed such marriages then they would not accept his help in future.

The Archbishop said that in spite of such differences between Christians in Africa and the West, “unity is something we have to maintain”.

“I may be wrong, but I also believe that to take a step that means that people who desperately need our help — and who we can help — can’t take it, feel in their own culture that it is impossible to be helped by us, is something that we can’t easily do.”

The Archbishop admitted that the Church had done “great harm” to many groups, including homosexuals, but added it might not be possible to do anything to rectify the situation.

He continued: “At the same time there are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue an almost impossible one to deal with.

“How do you hold those two things [in balance] and do what is right and just by all? And not only by one group that you prefer and that is easier to deal with? That’s not acceptable.”

However, the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, criticised the Archbishop’s position.
“I think that relating gay marriage in the West to the activities of warlords and people who practise genocide in central Africa is simply wrong. I don’t think it makes sense at all.

“If it is true that the cost of keeping the Anglican Communion together is that people keep getting murdered in nasty ways around the world, I say, what do you mean by keeping the Anglican Communion together?” · 

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