The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised political attempts to “force same-sex marriage” in the Church of England. Speaking at the Anglican Consultative Meeting in Ghana, Most Rev Justin Welby told over 110 Anglican leaders he was twice asked to attend meetings with MPs where he was “threatened with parliamentary action” over the issue. Archbishop Welby said: “For years I’ve been told by, principally, Christians around the world that Islam would take over Europe. I’ve always said that would not happen. The greater danger was the secular ‘nones’. 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. It is understood the parliamentary meetings were held just a few days before the Church of England’s historic debate to allow clergy to bless couples in same-sex marriages or civil partnerships. The move means LGBT+ couples could ask any clergy in Church of England parishes to have a service of thanksgiving and blessing as soon as July. But prior to the final vote, concerns had been raised of the potential impact the decision might have on the wider union of the Anglican Communion, as many provinces see the move as a departure from biblical teaching. Following one of the meetings, it also emerged Archbishop Welby had reportedly said he would rather lose the Church of England’s privileged status in the UK than see a split in the Anglican Communion. The comments were later dismissed by Lambeth Palace.
Archbishop Welby told leaders in Ghana he had warned of the impact of the decision but they had been “dismissed by many” in the General Synod. “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,” he continued. He later added: “Obedience to God comes ahead of loyalty to country. That was not popular when I said it, to some Members of Parliament.” Leaders from Rwanda and Uganda have already condemned the Church of England’s decision, with the Archbishop of Kenya being the latest to add his “sadness” at the “departure of our mother church from the true gospel”.
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