Same-sex blessings may tear faithful in two

Proposals to validate civil marriages will ‘violate the clear teaching of the bible’, say conservative bishops

By Gabriella Swerling



Daily Telegraph


THE Archbishop of Canterbury risks breaking up the Anglican Communion over same-sex marriage blessings that “rewrite God’s law”, conservative bishops worldwide have warned. The Most Rev Justin Welby, who is the head of both the Church of England and the Anglican Communion – which represents Anglican provinces, clergy, churches and worshippers across the world – has sparked division between the two organisations. The row came after Church of England bishops rejected calls to conduct same-sex marriages, and instead announced proposals to bless those who have already had civil marriage or partnership ceremonies. The bishops’ recommendations will be debated at the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, from February 6 to 9. However, the announcement has prompted anger from the more conservative Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). The organisation, which represents churches on every continent, has criticised the Archbishop, warning that if the General Synod does vote to bless same-sex marriages, then the Church of England will violate the “clear and canonical teaching of the Bible”. It added that this would “inevitably lead to a re-configuration, and a restructuring of the Communion as we currently know it”. The Most Rev Justin Badi Arama, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is also the chairman of the GSFA. He described the blessings as “a farcical compromise”, adding: “If Synod votes to back the bishops’ recommendations, then it is foreseeable that several Global South provinces will also be in impaired communion with the Church of England.” He made his comments as the Archbishop prepares to make a historic visit to South Sudan with Pope Francis and Rev Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, next week to raise international interest in the issues facing the nation. Lambeth Palace last night confirmed that the Archbishop would be hosted by the Primate of South Sudan during the trip and that he “looks forward to spending time with Archbishop Badi and the leaders and congregations of the Anglican Church of South Sudan”. The Rev Paul Eddy, a spokesman for the GSFA, said that if the Synod voted in favour of the blessings then the Archbishop would be the first Archbishop of Canterbury in history “to take the Church of England out of the Anglican Communion – it’s that radical”. He added: “The Church of England missionaries went across the world planting churches and evangelising. It founded the Anglican Communion as we know it, so he’d be rewriting centuries of history. “If Welby goes ahead with this decision, it will lead to the break-off of the Church of England from the Anglican Communion.”