Tags: Church of England | same sex marriage | abortion | archbishop

Church of England Leaders Disagree on Marriage, Abortion

Image: Church of England Leaders Disagree on Marriage, Abortion
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 04:28 PM

The Church of England is suffering "serious fractures" among its senior leaders over the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, the Archbishop of Canterbury says.

Archbishop Justin Welby on Wednesday has now completed 37 visits to senior bishops or archbishops in every province of the Anglican community throughout the world, as he promised to do in his first 18 months in office, the Anglican Communion News Service reports.

And during a speech to the General Synod last week, he conceded he's found "a flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion."

"In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgmental, inhuman," Welby said, according to the U.K. Christian news outlet The Way.

"I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures."

"In this Church of England, we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world," he added.

"We must speak the truth in love."

Breitbart notes Welby's worry is backed up in a recent YouGov poll of 1,500 Church of England clergy that found "a relatively small group of the most evangelical male clergy" could provide a barrier to the unity the Archbishop has set as his goal.

Roughly a third of clergy identify as evangelical, The Way reports. Of these, 88 percent say that same-sex marriage is wrong, compared with just over a third of the rest of the clergy. Similarly, 31 percent of evangelical clergy would ban abortion altogether, a figure which falls to 16 percent among Anglican clergy overall.

The survey also shows evangelicals are far less willing to compromise, according to Christian Today.

"While the majority of clergy support the aim of  'maintaining unity by being more tolerant of diverse views,' two thirds of the evangelical clergy disagree, contending either that the Church should seek greater uniformity of views or else that it should not be afraid of separating amicably along doctrinal and ethical lines," the survey finds.

The poll also found it was evangelical men rather than evangelical women who are opposed to Welby's goal of 'disagreeing well.' Sixty-one percent of evangelical women clergy agree with the majority of clergy who support greater toleration. But 68 percent of evangelical male clergy disagree, Christian Today reports.

One academic told Christian Today a split might not be such a bad thing.

"My view is that it would be much better to enable people to function in smaller groups and enable people to do their own thing rather than to try to hold on to a lowest common denominator," Linda Woodhead, a professor at Lancaster University, told the news outlet.

"If I were in church leadership and saw these statistics, I would think very hard about whether I really wanted to cast things loose rather than trying to keep people together. It would lessen tensions and release a lot of energy."

But a member of the conservative evangelical group Reform, the Rev. Simon Austen, argues, "We are not able to believe whatever we want."

"We have a framework that defines our unity," he told Christian Today, noting the majority of Anglicans have a traditional view of same-sex relationships and sexual ethics in general.

"The real issue is over that which jeopardizes our salvation," he said. "If the Church of England were to say, 'This is not really sinful and you don't need to repent of it,' it would be redefining salvation. It would be very difficult if one part were to say that you need to repent of this behavior and another part were to say that you don't."

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The Church of England is suffering "serious fractures" among its senior leaders over the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, the Archbishop of Canterbury says.
Church of England, same sex marriage, abortion, archbishop
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2014-28-26
Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 04:28 PM
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