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No ‘chucking out’ over women

22 March 2013

JIM HOLDEN

Greetings: Archbishop Welby among the crowds in Chichester, on Tuesday

Greetings: Archbishop Welby among the crowds in Chichester, on Tuesday

"CHUCKING out" the minority who disagree with women bishops is "just not Christian", the Archbishop of Canterbury says in an interview, published today.

He rebuts the accusation by Diana Johnson MP that the women-bishops working group "lacks a sense of urgency for change". The Labour MP introduced a Ten-minute Bill into the House of Commons on Wednesday of last week which would amend the law to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England (News, 15 March).

Interviewed for this paper, Archbishop Welby says that he appreciated what Ms Johnson was doing. "But she's wrong. There's a great deal of urgency. . . She obviously thinks that we're not going quickly enough; I think we're working extremely hard on it and as well as we can. We want to get this done."

The Archbishop refuses to be drawn on what sort of package he would like to see brought before the General Synod in July, saying that he does not wish to prejudge the outcome of the working group's deliberations.

If the Church of England were a political party, the situation would be more straightforward, he says, "because we'd have passed the Measure by a majority and chucked out everyone who disagreed with us - nice and simple.

"It's just not Christian. It's not what we do. We're bound together by a common baptism through the work of the Holy Spirit, and I don't think we should have the liberty of saying to people: 'This is how it's going to be, and that's just too bad if you don't like it.'"

He says that holding facilitated discussions behind closed doors with different factions of the Synod has provided "safe spaces where people can say what they think and listen to each other, and it not all be observed".

Elsewhere in the interview, Archbishop Welby, who describes himself as a conservative Evangelical, expresses sympathy with a suggestion by the Primates of Nigeria and Kenya that the Archbishop of Canterbury should no longer chair the Primates' Meeting (News, 27 April 2012).

"I think I very much understand what they're saying. We have to find a way for the structures of the Communion over time to reflect the realities of our commonality in the grace of God, and ensure that they are not simply driven by the imperial accident of history.

"All structures need to change from time to time, to reflect changes in history, in culture, in experience. . . . They always have done in the Anglican Communion. I'm sure that, over time, the structures will continue to flex and adapt."

Interview

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