Welby quizzed on same-sex marriage


Published: Sunday 21st December 2014 by The News Editor

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is trying to bridge the split within the Anglican church over the issue of same-sex marriage.

Expanding on comments he made earlier this month, the Most Rev Justin Welby told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that he was determined to try to listen to both sides. And he admitted he has “moments” of frustration about the issue.

“In human terms it looks impossible and many people say that we shouldn’t be bothering to try,” he said.

“The reality is that when I listen to people I know that I’m listening to people for whom not just the issue of sexuality but the whole way in which the Church lives and exists and reaches out to people, what it looks like to be a holy church, is something on which they feel passionately and are deeply, deeply, deeply disagreeing.

“And if you love them you listen carefully, and in obedience to the work of the spirit of Christ, we have to seek to love one another.”

Asked by presenter Kirsty Young why he has opposed same-sex marriage in the past, he said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment because the Church is currently having discussions on the issue.

“I’m really not going to answer the question very well because we’re now into conversations within the Church, both globally and locally, and I think if I weigh in at this stage it’s inappropriate,” he said.

“It’s something as you go around the communion, and having visited all the provinces I am very aware of this, that is seen by many as an absolutely central understanding of obedience to Christ, in both directions, either in favour or against.”

He also recalled his mother, Jane Gillian, taking him for tea with Winston Churchill when he was very young. She had been the former prime minister’s private secretary.

“I remember a very, very old man. And he cried, I don’t know why. And because he cried, I cried. And then we sat and had tea.

“I’ve talked to her about it since, and she said ‘Well, he cried quite a lot’.”

Archbishop Welby also said dealing with his father Gavin’s alcoholism as a child was “very painful”, and talked about one particular Christmas when he was left alone all day as his father stayed in bed.

“I did think this was a pretty bad day. I think I went out once or twice but everything was closed. I didn’t know really what to do with myself all day. I suspect I watched telly a bit.”

He added: “It was a grim day. That was a grim, grim day.”

The Archbishop chose Jerry And The Pacemakers’ You’ll Never Walk Alone as a tribute to Liverpool, where he was Dean for nearly four years.

“I remember being at Anfield on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and this being sung, and then going back to the cathedral and finding Everton and Liverpool scarves all over the cathedral, and this amazing, wonderful, poor, battered, thrusting, lively, humorous city coming together.”

He has recently returned from a visit to Sudan and chose a Sudanese religious song because of “that sense of their faith and trust in and joy – God in the midst of absolute horror”.

He also chose The Tokens’ The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) as one of his desert island choices because he sings the song to distract his family when they play the card game Racing Demon.

Alongside the Bible, the Archbishop selected Gibbon’s weighty historical tome The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire as his book, and the complete series of the West Wing as a luxury.

Published: Sunday 21st December 2014 by The News Editor

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