Justin Welby ‘affirms validity’ of 1998 statement that gay sex is a sin | Justin Welby

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican Church, has tried to appease conservative bishops around the world by “confirming the validity” of a 1998 statement that gay sex is a sin.

He told more than 650 bishops attending the annual Lambeth conference that it was “unthinkable” for “a vast majority” of conservative Anglicans to question biblical teachings.

Welby said: “In many countries, [it] would subject the church to ridicule, contempt, and even attack. For many churches, changing traditional teaching poses a challenge to their existence.”

In a letter to bishops shortly before what was described as a “robust discussion” about sexuality, Welby said the 1998 resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, was “without question”.

But he also indicated that he would not seek the authority to punish or exclude churches – including those in Scotland, Wales and the US – that allow same-sex marriage.

And in a hint at possible future changes in the Anglican Church, he told the conference that for churches in liberal democracies, failing to update traditional teachings could also challenge their existence. They too could “become victims of ridicule, contempt and even attack”.

After the session, Michael Curry, the primate of the American Episcopal Church, who became world famous when he preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, said churches exist in “very different cultural contexts”.

In the US, “it would have been unthinkable for us not to bless and sanctify loving relationships between LGBT people.” It was the first time Welby said in public that he understood the reasons for that, he added.

Still, some advocates of LGBTQ+ equality within the church were angry with Welby’s attempt to reaffirm the church’s traditional stance. Jayne Ozanne said: “Again, priority has been given to saving a man-made institution over protecting the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

“Let us be clear that Lambeth 1.10 encourages ‘conversion therapy’ and denies the God-given love between two individuals. It is a stick that many of us have been beaten with and will continue to suffer around the world.”

Ninety bishops, including eight archbishops, signed a statement saying that “many LGBT+ people have been historically injured by the Church and particularly injured by the events of recent weeks”.

They added that they “look forward to the day when we can all feel truly welcome, valued and validated”.

Meanwhile, conservative church leaders from the south of the world called on bishops at the Canterbury conference to explicitly repeat the 1998 statement.

Lambeth 1.10 rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture” and “enforces fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman in a lifelong union”. It says that same-sex unions should not be legitimized or blessed.

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, which claims to represent 75% of Anglicans worldwide, said 1.10 “explicitly applies the clear and historical teachings of Scripture to matters of sexual morality.”

Justin Badi Arama, the Archbishop of South Sudan, said: “We live in a time of great spiritual confusion and moral change. The Church of Jesus Christ cannot afford to lose its berths in Scripture and drift with the world.

“Based on the need to establish a clear doctrine on marriage and sexuality at this decisive moment for the Anglican community, this conference should reaffirm the biblical teaching of Lambeth conference 1998 resolution 1.10.”

Badi said he was sure a majority of the bishops attending the conference would support his call.

He said that all Anglican bishops “should preach the good news of Jesus Christ…If we don’t respect the scriptures, we say God is wrong.” Bishops in same-sex relationships or who supported same-sex marriage had “dissociated themselves from the way of God,” he added.

The issue of sexuality – or human dignity in conference parlance – is the most controversial issue in the 12-day meeting, which has been postponed twice from 2018. Church of England and the Church of England. worldwide church for decades.

Anglican churches in Scotland, Wales, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico practice or bless same-sex marriage. The most determined opposition comes from churches in sub-Saharan Africa, with the archbishops of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda boycotting the conference.

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