Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Wednesday 15th February 2017

Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby following the General Synod’s vote “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships.

“No person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people.

How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the Church of England’s General Synod debate on marriage and same-sex relationships today - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.

To deal with that disagreement, to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.

The vote today is not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said this afternoon.

The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 10:17pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Your Grace,

Obviously you are today seriously trying (at last) to change the tone. Thank you for that.

But tone is words. What about policy? What about the Church of England's active discrimination against children of God?

So let's get down to brass tacks.

Are you willing to support a liturgy that celebrates civil partnerships?

Are you willing to allow civilly same-sex-married clergy to be ordained as bishops?

And above all: Are you now willing to base your "radical new inclusion" on England's needs, not Nigeria's? Or do you continue to take Communion demands into account, as you lead the Church of England?

Because--trumpeted words aside--it still comes down to the same question.

As you prepare for Lambeth 2020, where do your loyalties lie?

To your own position as a supposed Instrument of [Unity/Oppression] in the Communion?

Or to the interests of God's English flock?

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 10:52pm GMT

Unity in Diversity.

It can't just be one side right one side wrong.

The challenge is not 'Who's right?'

The challenge is: Can we find grace to co-exist and love one another, even in our diversity?

There can't just be a single, imposed uniformity.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 11:01pm GMT

These are wonderful, healing, words by Justin Welby. I understand that the road to these words was very cynical. However, I am a true believer in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and our capacity, with God's help, to repent, reconcile, and redeem.

I would suggest that when the bishops "think again," that they do their thinking more inclusively. He will find plenty of gay relationships that are clear examples of flourishing and that bring that flourishing to the church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 3:30am GMT

The Archbishop of Canterbury could have begun with 'radical inclusion' if he had included on the episcopal review group the only publicly acknowledged gay bishop, +Grantham. But he didn't. That the report was 'not noted' is in reality a vote of 'no confidence' in the HoB and ++ Welby in particular. Everybody, except it appears religious correspondents, knows that 'taking note' is not a neutral action because ++Welby would have then said that GS had accepted and supported the HoB's basic position. Just like he did with the ACC. At long last, some people are getting the measure of this man.

Posted by: Commentator on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 6:53am GMT

This final paragraph in the ABC's post-Synod Statement really needs to be taken to heart, by laity, clergy and bishops - not just enunciated for public relations' sake.

The refusal to 'Take Note' of the Bishops' Report clearly indicates the clergy of the C. of E.'s determination to do better than the bishops have done on this vital issue.

Congratulations to those of you who got up and spoke at General Synod to such good effect on behalf of the LGBTI minority in the Church. Let's hope your eloquence has not been wasted. Our prayers are with you all in the Church of England.

We, in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific Islands have our own General Synod coming up in 2018 - on the very same issues. Pray for us as we pray for you.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 8:07am GMT

"There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people."

What does that actually mean though?

Demonstrably the Church has problems over sexuality.

Demonstrably half the Church of England has problems with gay and lesbian marriage if it was introduced.

And above all, LGBT+ people themselves have problems... with homophobia, with marginalisation, with discrimination, with the current dogma that their personal intimacies and fidelity are sins.

Some of these problems are inside the Church, and some of these problems are outside the Church, but really, as a liberating agent the Church of England should be in the vanguard of recognising and repudiating the causes of these problems.

To date, it has not been (unlike the beacon-like example of The Episcopal Church in the US).

I 'get' that Justin is really saying that LGBT people are people, and should not be seen as problems. But until the Church recognises that it is complicit in LGBT people's problems, we're not really there.

"Radical new inclusion" cannot mean 'being nice' to LGBT people, while locking them out of marriage, which automatically makes their sex sin.

And because the Church is no nearer agreement on these human sexuality issues (and indeed, possibly more deeply polarised), I don't think we can get any resolution to this stand off unless the Church finally confronts the option of introducing "radical new inclusion" by agreeing to disagree, and allowing two legitimacies... the diversity of theological opinion so poorly represented in the Bishops' unnoted Report... and allows priests and parishes to follow their sincere consciences on this matter, with some priests marrying gay couples and some priests not.

In other words, rather than trying to "win" a battle of who is doctrinally right, and imposing that uniformity on a permanently divided Church, it would be far better to see our disagreements as a test of love and grace.

We need to co-exist in a 'unity in diversity', and this option has been studiously avoided in the Bishops' Report, and yet the precedent is there in the case of female priests and bishops. It is a way forward. And it puts the emphasis on grace, not dogmatism.

It is the challenge to 'see how these Christians love one another'.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 8:19am GMT

Re-posting what Commentator said above, because I agree with every word:

"That the report was 'not noted' is in reality a vote of 'no confidence' in the HoB and ++ Welby in particular. Everybody, except it appears religious correspondents, knows that 'taking note' is not a neutral action because ++Welby would have then said that GS had accepted and supported the HoB's basic position. Just like he did with the ACC."

Beware ++Welby's "neutral motions"! He will try to portray them both ways.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 11:33am GMT

Susanna I think the ABC was rejecting 'problems' as a way of labelling a category of people. I also his closing speech went very much further than anything in the report too.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 1:32pm GMT

I'm not sure that we are possibly more deeply polarised Susannah. I was present in the public gallery for the debate and the truth telling, relational approach of most of the speakers demonstrated a church that was being real about its disagreement over this issue, but seeking to love one another within the love of God, and I'm assuming that this is one of the positive outcomes of the Shared Conversations, however flawed they might have been. It was also pretty obvious that we are all in the same business of proclaiming and living the gospel and that on the ground in many places people want the Church to be inclusive in keeping with their understanding of the ministry of Jesus. The rhetoric of welcome for all has to be become reality and it was clear that conditional welcome and marginalisation is not confined to LGBTI+ people. That sounded like a significant wake up call to me. Both the Archbishop and Bishop James said that the bishops would take note of what they have heard, and that must include the fact that a significant number of people had withdrawn from the case study sessions because they did not feel safe or as protest against the way the process has continually objectified and 'othered' LGBTI+ people. That really has to stop now and the best way to do that is for the bishops to invite LGBTI+ members of the Church to assist them in finding a workable way forward.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 4:50pm GMT


I am in agreement with almost everything you say, and like many people, I have been engaging with several of the bishops. I'd also be glad to 'team up' in any co-operation with the bishops on lesbian and trans issues particularly (perhaps the trans, as they seem underprepared on that front).

However, you write: "The rhetoric of welcome for all has to be become reality."

Totally. But that cannot happen as long as my sexual tenderness for my girl still falls into the category of out-of-wedlock therefore sin. Without wedlock, my tender intimacies remain 'sinful' by the current definitions. That is a devastating unwelcome and simply isn't acceptable.

Until my girl, my relationship, and my natural human sexuality is welcome, I'm afraid it remains rhetoric.

The bishops have a lot of thinking to do. I want to see people on both sides of the 'divide' carried and cared for inside our Church. To me, it is glaringly clear that Unity in Diversity... the two integrities approach, leaving exercise of conscience to individual priests and parishes... is an option that needs to be very seriously considered now.

After all, can anyone suggest a better way of avoiding schism and meltdown in the Church of England. One of the bishops spoke to me today about the frustrated hope of 'squaring the circle'. I believe Unity in Diversity is the nearest we can get to doing that (and I know it would still be unacceptable at the fringes on both sides).

The reality is two consciences on this issue in our Church - pretty evenly divided. Surely then, for the sake of all other aspects of mission and community service... we need to look to grace and love, to hold together, and love one another, even in our diversity of consciences... as we serve community wherever we are, in varied and diverse contexts and expressions.

I pray for all the bishops (including my cousin) and for more and more of the grace that you observed.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 8:50pm GMT

Hi Susannah. The best way of being involved now is to join OneBodyOneFaith (formerly LGCM & CAE) I hope that yesterday's relational speeches at General Synod finally signalled an end of the 'squaring the circle'/conundrum/puzzle approach, the problematizing of people and their relationships, that is itself the problem.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 10:21pm GMT

This letter seems quite good -amazingly so !

But usually / always on lgbt issues, the words of church of england leaders turn out not to be what they appear(ed).

I am suspicious of this apparent volte face, and am left wondering what the catch may be.

One approach on the 15th and its opposite on the 16th ? !

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Friday, 17 February 2017 at 2:24pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.