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Welby: Anglicans are a family that goes out in the garden and shouts

by Muriel Porter, Australia Correspondent and Madeleine Davies

Posted: 15 Aug 2014 @ 00:10


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ANGLICANS are "like one of those families that, rather than having their arguments in private, hissing at each other and sulking, goes out in the garden and shouts", the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. "It's not always a good thing. I think it often is a good thing, because it's transparent and honest."

The Archbishop was speaking to ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics Report during his visit to the Province this week.

Asked about divisions within the Communion - the previous Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, was an active member of GAFCON - he said that there remained "a sense of unity". In each of the 29 Provinces he had, as Archbishop, visited to date, he had found that the link to Canterbury had been "something that people treasure and value to a huge degree".

He concluded: "We may split apart; we may walk separately; we may walk togther. I believe that Christ is calling us to walk together, and that's what I am working on."

On Wednesday, the Archbishop preached at the service of inauguration for the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, as Primate of Australia, at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne.

The Church of England was swimming against a cultural "rip tide", and associated with "what is often seen as nasty, bad, judgemental, condemning", Archbishop Welby said.

In this tide, "autonomy and existential self-invention tear through all assumptions about everything from the proper conduct of government to the nature of human sexuality, taking with it the ethics of our collective life."

The Church was "laden with our systems of governance, our assumptions about how we act, our sins of the past, especially in the treatment of children and vulnerable adults". 

Despite the good work of the Church on the ground, "the TV public image of the Church is, wrongly, at best of quarrelsome idiots, and often of concealing villains."

The Church must seek "positive holiness and liberation", he said, which "sets us free from the sins of defensive inward-looking, competitive argument". It must confess its faults, "especially the abuse of power that lies behind the abuse of children and vulnerable adults", and seek "liberty to be diverse and yet full of love for one another". 

During his one-day visit to Australia, the Archbishop said that decisions about any changes were best made by the Communion as a whole, not in one place; and that included the next Lambeth Conference, "whenever that might be".

"There is nothing magic about the number eight," he said, meaning that the next Lambeth Conference was not necessarily to be held in 2018, the year when it would be held according to the custom.             

Supporting Dr Freier's call to the Australian government to offer asylum to Christians from northern Iraq who were facing either forced conversion or death, Archbishop Welby said that what was happening in Iraq was "off the scale of human horror".

The persecution in northern Iraq and Syria was "especially savage", he said, but it was also part of  a "rising and increasingly serious persecution of Christians and other groups in many countries".

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