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ACC: Welby seeks to calm Anglican Communion over same-sex blessings

13 February 2023

Neil Turner

Maggie Swinson, Archbishop Welby, Dr Paul Kwong, and Bishop Anthony Poggo at the press conference at the Accra Marriott Hotel on Saturday

Maggie Swinson, Archbishop Welby, Dr Paul Kwong, and Bishop Anthony Poggo at the press conference at the Accra Marriott Hotel on Saturday

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has reminded people of the autonomy of Anglican Provinces, as rumours circulated that same-sex blessings were to be imposed on other parts of the Communion.

Speaking at a press conference in the Accra Marriott Hotel, on Saturday, before the opening of the 18th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), he said: “No Province can bind another Province, tell it what to do. We are not a post-, a neo-colonial entity in that way.”

He was speaking as reactions continued to be published to last week’s vote by the Church of England’s General Synod to approve the Bishops’ plan to permit the blessing of same-sex couples in church.

The Anglican Communion Office (ACO) put out a statement on Sunday to counter “false claims” that the Synod motion was “binding on the rest of the Anglican Communion. “This is categorically not true,” it said.

The ACO reports that some delegates at the ACC meeting had been told that the decision “was a decision for the entire Communion. It wasn’t. It was a decision for England only.”

Neil TurnerArchbishop Welby gives a video interview at Accra airport on Friday, as he arrived for the 18th ACC meeting

Archbishop Welby said: “One bit of the Church of England passing the resolutions that passed last week does not bind anyone at all, not even the Church of England at the moment.”

He also spoke of the Provinces’ relationship. “We’re interdependent. We belong to each other. We’re grown-up children.”

The point was reinforced by the vice-chair of the ACC, Maggie Swinson, who said: “What it is that brings us together isn’t a set of rules. It isn’t for us to be busy looking over our shoulder at what our neighbours’ state of play is in terms of their relationship with God. It is our relationship with God.”

The secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, formerly Bishop of Kao-Keji in South Sudan, said that, although the Anglican Communion Office was based in London, it was not part of the C of E. And the ACC chair was not the Archbishop of Canterbury, but Dr Paul Kwong, Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong (who was also present at the press conference).

Other topics to come up during the ACC meeting included climate change and science and technology. Archbishop Welby said: “I think the Anglican science and technology network is truly visionary and exciting — probably one of the most exciting things, potentially, that we’ve started doing in many years.”

Neil TurnerArchbishop Welby presents King Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, with the Cross of St Augustine and the accompanying citation during visit to the Manhiya Palace in Kumasi, Ghana, on Saturday

He challenged the press conference with a quiz: “Jesus said, a) where two or three are gathered in my name and all believe right doctrine I am there there amongst them? Or b) when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there amongst them. . .

“No As? Bs? There you are. Yeah, we get it wrong. We all get it wrong. We’re sinners. . . But the point of the Instruments [of Communion] is we get it wrong in love, and care for each other.”

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