The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to every primate in the Anglican Communion to set out his hopes for the next Primates’ Meeting, which will take place in Canterbury in October.
also gave details of last week’s report by the Church of England’s House
of Bishops on human sexuality.
In the letter, Archbishop Justin sets
out his vision for the meeting in Canterbury as an opportunity for
relaxed fellowship and mutual consultation. He invites the primates to
submit items for the agenda and says he’s aware of the pressures under
which many of them live.
“I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience
and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best
we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor and proclaim
the Kingdom of God,” he says.
The Archbishop goes on to unpack the declaration on human sexuality
which was published last week before a debate at the Church of England’s
General Synod later this month.
He describes as a “key outcome” the recommendation that the Church of
England’s teaching on marriage should remain unchanged, meaning there
can be no same-sex weddings in the Church of England.
But he adds that
the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples needs
clarification and notes the Bishops’ acknowledgment that the Church
needs to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to
Last week’s report has also been welcomed by the secretary general of
the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who said: “The issue of
same-sex marriage is highly emotive within the church. I understand the
depth of passion on each side of the debate and I understand that any
decision will leave some feeling disappointed and wounded by the
“I support the Bishops’ declaration that doctrine on marriage should
not change – that marriage should be a lifelong commitment between a man
and woman. The Anglican Communion position is set out in Resolution
1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. That is our lodestar.
“But it is right that we acknowledge that some of our brothers and
sisters do have same-sex attraction and I support the move for a ‘fresh
tone’ in the way the issues are debated. Anglicans are called to love
all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. We are committed
to welcoming and loving people with same-sex attraction. More than that,
we need to fight against homophobia and anything that criminalises
Preparations for the Primates Meeting are well underway. Archbishop
Justin’s invitation has been sent to the primates of the other 37
provinces of the Anglican Communion. It will be the first time the group
has formally assembled since the gathering and meeting in January 2016,
although many were in Rome last October at the invitation of the
Anglican Centre there as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The 2016 Primates’ gathering drew worldwide attention. It concluded
with a communiqué which set out consequences for the US-based Episcopal
Church (TEC) following its decision to change its canon on same-sex
As a result, members of TEC have stepped down from IASCUFO –
the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order – and
also from the IRAD ecumenical dialogue.
Members of TEC participated in
ACC-16 in Lusaka, but none voted on issues of doctrine and polity –
another stipulation of the Primates’ communiqué.
The January 2016 meeting also called for the setting up of a Task
Group to explore differences and seek ways to restore relationship and
The Task Group, which draws members from across the
Anglican Communion, subsequently met in September last year and is due
to meet again during 2017.