The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned the Church of England that it had to face up to a “revolution” in attitudes to homosexuality.
|Mr Welby was enthroned earlier this month at Canterbury Cathedral|
Photo: Getty Images
In his most widely anticipated address since taking over the leadership of the Church, the Most Rev Justin Welby insisted that it was now “absurd and impossible” to ignore an “overwhelming” change in social attitudes.
In a deliberate echo of Harold MacMillan’s 1950 speech which attacked apartheid in South Africa, the Archbishop warned church leaders that they needed to reassess their own attitudes to gay people – even if they do not “like it”.
While insisting he had no immediate plans to change policy on issues such as gay marriage, he announced a major campaign to curb anti-gay bullying in the Church of England’s more than 5,000 schools.
He is understood to have approached Stonewall, which led the campaign in favour of gay marriage, to invite it into church schools to teach up to a million children about homosexuality.
“We may or may not like it but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality,” the Archbishop said.
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His comments, signalling a dramatic change in tone from the established church, came in his first address as Archbishop to the Church’s General Synod which is meeting in York as it attempts to come up with a new solution to the fiasco over women bishops.
In a wide-ranging address he said that Britain, like other countries, is living through a “time of revolutions” affecting the economic and political sphere but also in social attitudes.
He acknowledged a “radical” decline in religious affiliation, as borne out by the recent census and other polling, as well as an “overwhelming” shift in public attitudes on issues such as sexuality where “predictable attitudes” were disappearing.
But he insisted that the Church could benefit and even begin to grow again if it was willing to “respond radically and imaginatively” to a changing world.
The Archbishop, who visited Egypt last week, drew comparisons with the fast-moving situation in the country.
"We live in a time of revolutions,” he said.
“And the trouble with revolutions is that once they start no-one knows where they will go.”
Turning to the “many revolutions” underway in Britain, he said: “The cultural and political ground is changing, there is a revolution.
“Anyone who listened to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there.
“The opposition to the Bill - which included me and many other bishops - was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance and participation and majority since 1945.
“There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches”.
He admitted that it had been “close to the bone” to evidence of young gay people driven to suicide because of uncaring attitudes from churches.
“In some things we change course and recognise the new context.
“In others we stand firm because truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion.
“But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible.”
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said: “Of course we will always help an education provider in helping to tackle homophobic bullying in schools and there are already several dozen Church of England schools working with Stonewall.
“But the cynic would be tempted to think perhaps that the Archbishop is trying to distract attention from his failure to engage gay people - when they requested it over the issue of marriage.”
Question: Dear Kryon: Regarding homosexuality or transsexuals. WHY are they the way they are and WHY are they not accepted in mainstream society?
Answer: [From the Kryon Office]
There is often a tremendous amount of information on subjects that are not necessarily part of the on-line magazine Q&A database. Kryon has been channelling for fourteen years, with 9 books covering many, many topics. Homosexuality was one of them from the very beginning. Please see our "Books index page" for subjects contained in the Kryon books: [http://www.kryon.com/direct.html]
An excerpt from Kryon Book 6, page 306
Question from the book: Dear Kryon, I am gay, and an enlightened man. I live in an American society that barely tolerates me, and actually has some laws against my way of life. The church I used to belong to cast me out as being evil and anti-God. I don't feel that I am violating some Human ethic. My love is as true as any heterosexual, and I am a light worker. Tell me what I should know.
Answer from the book: Dear one, less than two generations from now, there will be those who find this book and laugh at the quaintness of this very question. Before I answer, let me ask you and those reading this to examine a phenomenon about Human society and "God."
Thirty years ago, interracial marriage was considered to be wrong by the laws of God. Now your society finds it common. The spiritual objections around it were either dropped or "rewritten" by those divinely inspired and authorized to do so. Therefore, your actual interpretations of the instructions from God changed with your society's tolerance level--an interesting thing, indeed, how the interpretations of God seem to change regularly to match a changing culture!
The truth, of course, is that you find yourself in a situation that is known to create a test for you. Right now, in this time, you have agreed to come into your culture with an attribute that may alienate you from friends and religious followers. You have faced fear of rejection and have had to "swim upstream," so to speak, just as an everyday life occurrence. Your contract, therefore, has been set up well, and you are in the middle of it. Additionally, like so many like you, you have a divine interest in yourselves! You feel part of the spiritual family. What a dichotomy indeed, to be judged as evil by those who are the high spiritual leaders--interpreting God for today's culture.
Now I say this: What is your intent? Is it to walk with love for all those around you and become an enlightened Human Being in this New Age? Is it to forgive those who see you as a spiritual blight on society? Can you have the kind of tolerance for them that they seem not to have for you? Can you overlook the fact that they freely quote their scriptures in order to condemn you, yet they don't seem to have the love tolerance that is the cornerstone of their own message?
If the answer is yes, then there is nothing else you must do. Your INTENT is everything, and your life will be honored with peace over those who would cause unrest, and tolerance for the intolerable. Your sexual attributes are simply chemistry and setups within your DNA. They are given by agreement as gifts for you to experience in this life. Look on them in this fashion, and be comfortable with that fact that you are a perfect spiritual creation under God--loved beyond measure--just like all humans. But then you know that, don't you?