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UK >

Church must accept there is sexual revolution, Welby tells Synod

by Gavin Drake

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 @ 08:11

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has used his first presidential address to the General Synod to call on the Church to recognise that the "cultural and political ground" in Britain is "changing", and to "accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it".

Speaking on the first day of the Synod meeting in York, on Friday evening, Archbishop Welby said that he was "not proposing new policy", but spoke of the "notable hostility" to the Church's current position.

"Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same-sex Marriage Bill second reading debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland; predictable attitudes were no longer there," he said. ( News, 7 June)

"The opposition to the Bill - which included me and many other bishops - was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance in the House, and participation in a debate, and majority since 1945.

"There was notable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I feel then and feel now, is that some of what was said by those supporting the Bill was uncomfortably close to the bone."

He said that "97 per cent of gay teenagers in the UK report homophobic bullying; and that in the USA, suicide as the result of such bullying, is the principal cause of death of gay adolescents.

"One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled.

"We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not fully heard it.

"The majority of the population rightly rejects homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. Sometimes they look at us and they see what they don't like. I don't like saying that, I've resisted that thought, but in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it."

The Archbishop announced a new initiative to tackle homophobic bullying in Church schools.

"With nearly a million children being educated in our schools, we must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are . . . taking the best advice we can find anywhere that specifically targets such bullying."

And he said that members should "ensure that what we do and say in this Synod as we debate these issues demonstrates, above all, the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all, without exception, sinners. This requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth."

Archbishop Welby also addressed the financial crisis, describing as another revolution that "the economic position of our country has changed dramatically.

"With all parties committed to austerity for the foreseeable future, we have to recognise that the profound challenges of social need, food banks, credit injustice, gross differentiation of income, pressure on all forms of state provision and spending are here to stay."

He said the churches "have the call and potentially the means to be the answer that God provides".

On Saturday, Synod members will meet in private in small groups to discuss Option One, selected by the House of Bishops from the four possible options mapped out by the working group on women bishops ( News, 31 May)A Measure instructing the steering committee to prepare draft legislation based on this option will be debated on Monday.

Read the text of the Archbishop's address here.

Group talks hold key to women-bishops outcome

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