In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
The Archbishop of Canterbury condemned all homophobic behaviour, and defended the Primates decision to suspend the Episcopal Church USA for 3 years.
At the end of the Anglican Communion meeting, celebrated in Canterbury this week, where the Primates have decided to temporarily suspend the Episcopal Church (USA) due to its “fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage”, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has held a press conference, to explain the main issues of the gathering.
“SORRY FOR THE PAIN THE CHURCH HAS CAUSED”
Welby started apologizing to the GLBT community for the pain they might have suffered from the church: “for me it is a constant source of deep sadness, the number of people who are persecuted for their sexuality” , he said.
“I don’t have the right to speak for everyone. I wanted to take this opportunity … to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, the church has caused”, he added.
The Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out that it was not for the Primates to divide the church" and that union would be "painful as well as joyful".
AGAINST HOMOPHOBIC BEHAVIOUR
When asked about the violence and legal sanctions gay communities face, especially in Africa, and if their decision about the Episcopal church will promote them, the bishops reaffirmed their “total rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”
“I'd love to see a change about legal persecution of gays”, Welby said
They condemned any homophobic behaviour and violence and aimed to work together to offer pastoral care:
“The Communion has always made room for the pastoral care of LGBT. Each Primate has to decide how to deal with condemning LGBT prejudice in own context”, the bishops stated during the press conference.
“WE ARE NOT SANCTIONING”
Regarding their decision about the Episcopal Church (USA), Welby argued: "We are not sanctioning them. We have simply said that if any province is out of line there will be consequences in their full participation of the life of the Communion." He added that the decision was “unanimous”
“We are very careful not to use the word sanctions. We don't have any power to use sanctions", he affirmed.
“We might look out of line in the US and the UK but not for much of the global communion”, Welby answered when asked about the “old-fashioned image”, they might give with this decision
Hong Kong Archbishop, Paul Kwong also stated they are “not an outdated communion, because we remain a faithful and relevant church in terms of mission.”
Although the question was made twice during the press conference, Welby refused to reveal “how many Provinces didn't reaffirm marriage could only be between a man and a woman for life.”
“I will not predict what happens in 3 years if the US church doesn't repent”, he said. He also refused to “speculate on sanctions for Anglican Church of Canada if it approves same sex marriage, we will cross that bridge when it happens.”
LAMBERT CONFERENCE IN 2020 AND EASTER AGREEMENT
Besides the decision about the Episcopal church, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that the Lambert Conference will be in 2020.
Welby also confirmed that they have agreed “to work with Pope Francis, Coptic Pope, and Ecumenical Patriarch to try to fix a permanent date for Easter.”
You can read the Primates´ communiqué about their gathering here