THE Archbishop of Canterbury used his first presidential address
to the General Synod last Friday to call on the Church to recognise
that the "cultural and political ground" in Britain was "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, last
Friday evening, Archbishop Welby said that he was "not proposing
new policy", but spoke of the "notable hostility" to the Church's
current position on sexuality.
"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
"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
"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 an 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."
Archbishop Welby also addressed the financial crisis, describing
it 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."
In a sermon preached at York Minster on Sunday morning, the
Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, sounded a positive note. He said:
"I believe that the sun is always rising on the Church, and in
particular, on the Church of England. And I believe that there will
be joy in the morning for the Church, because I believe that the
Church is always rising, too: it is rising in the power of the
resurrection of our Lord."