“The parliamentarians have tried to force the church on the issue,” says the archbishop

Archbishop Justin Welby

Archbishop Justin Welby speaking in Ghana, following recent changes in the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage

The archbishop of Canterbury, mgr. Justin Welby, spoke of being “threatened with parliamentary action” in an attempt to “force same-sex marriage” in the Church of England.

He was speaking at the Global Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Ghana.

It comes after reforms within the church allowing the blessing of same-sex couples in civil unions.

The change came after a motion was approved this month by the General Synod, the church’s legislative body.

His stance on gay marriage won’t change, and same-sex couples still won’t be able to marry in church.

The Telegraph reports that Welby met with MPs in the House of Commons last month and rejected further changes to his status on same-sex marriage.

Speaking ahead of the changes, broadcaster Sandi Toksvig said a January meeting with the archbishop last month was “very disappointing”.

Ms Toksvig is a high-profile activist on LGBT+ issues and, although she is not a member of the church, she told the BBC she spoke up because she felt the impact of the message sent by the bishops was having an impact far beyond the Church .

The changes in the church have been unpalatable to some conservatives, but they also fall far short of what many progressives had desired.

In Sunday’s presidential address, Welby said “many” members of the General Synod had “rejected” his concerns about recent reforms.

He told attendees at the meeting, held in the Ghanaian capital Accra, that “rules on sexuality in the Church of England” were being questioned as a “result” of growing atheism in the UK.

The archbishop said that in the northern hemisphere the Christian values ​​of “community and mutual responsibility” have been “almost eliminated” in favor of “individualism”.

Analysis box by Harry Farley, Religious Affairs reporter

Analysis box by Harry Farley, Religious Affairs reporter

Justin Welby’s comments in Ghana illustrate the range of opinions he is trying to hold together.

He was addressing an audience of Anglicans from around the world, including some from countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality.

The Ghanaian parliament is currently debating a new anti-LGBT bill. For many at the Accra meeting, the Church of England’s decision last week to allow prayers of blessing for same-sex couples contradicts how they interpret the Bible.

However, for many in the West, the Church of England’s refusal to allow church weddings for gay couples is repressive and out of step with the majority of society.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to keep these two positions together.

As to whether it is indeed “threatened by parliamentary action,” it is true that MPs have debated possible steps to pressure the Church to allow same-sex marriages.

But there is as yet no indication that the government would support such a move, and the resulting conflict it would bring with the Church of England.

Danger of “nobody”

He told those present that there was a “danger” posed by a growing number of atheists, whom he calls “nobody”.

“I don’t mean nuns,” she said. “I mean those who when asked about their faith, say, ‘None. I have no faith,'” he said.

“The result is clear. Over the past few weeks, as part of our discussions on sexuality and the rules of sexuality in the Church of England, I have spoken of our interdependence with all Christians, not just Anglicans, particularly those in the global south with other majorities of faith.

“As a result I was twice summoned to parliament and threatened with parliamentary action to force us into same-sex marriage, called equal marriage in England.

“When I speak about the impact that the Church of England’s actions will have on those abroad in the Anglican communion, these concerns are dismissed by many, not all, but many in the General Synod.”

A new morality

The archbishop also appeared critical of the movements towards greater bodily autonomy and assisted suicide, stating that “we have replaced morality and the Christian faith with personal control over our bodies”.

“We are in a completely different culture in the more financially affluent world than where we were 30 years ago.”

He stated that “birth with genetically engineered babies is not far off”.

“And death is something that so many believe we have the right to choose however and when we want.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a senior member of the House of Lords and has led debates in the House.

In the speech, Welby referred to former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey’s campaign on assisted suicide in Westminster.

He said his predecessor had “strongly spoken out for assisted suicide in the Houses of Parliament – in the House of Lords”.

He also spoke of an emerging morality designed for “the rich, the powerful and the intellectually well educated”.

“It is a morality that does not believe in human sinfulness and failure.

“He doesn’t believe in forgiveness, he doesn’t believe in hope.

“This is where the Church struggles.”

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