Better the Church of England lose status than risk fracture over same-sex marriage, Archbishop reportedly says
The Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly said he would rather the Church of England lost its privileged status than risk a global split over same-sex marriage.
The Most Rev Justin Welby made the comments privately to MPs, the Guardian reported.
The Telegraph understands the remarks were made at a meeting with MPs at the House of Commons.
It comes after Church of England bishops rejected calls to allow same-sex marriages in churches at a meeting in January, following six years of debate and consultation.
Instead, they agreed to offer blessings after a civil partnership or marriage.
The decision prompted backlash from equality campaigners, some of whom accused the church of discrimination.
The Archbishop was asked on Monday by an MP whether the Church of England should retain its status as the established church when it was out of step with the law and public opinion, the Guardian reported.
He replied that he would rather the church be disestablished than risk losing conservative groups within the global Anglican church, according to the paper.
A spokesperson for the Archbishop told the Guardian that this report of his remarks were “really not accurate”.
In a comment to The Telegraph, a spokesperson said the discussion was “much more nuanced and complex”.
The establishment of the Church of England dates back to the 16th century.
While the church is no longer financially supported by the state, its senior clerics are members of the House of Lords, and many of its laws are approved by Parliament.
King Charles is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and he will be crowned by the Most Rev Justin Welby in May.
The Church of England is also the “mother church” of the international Anglican Communion.”
The bishops proposals about same-sex marriage will be debated at General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, next week.
According to current canon law, no Church of England minister can bless or marry gay couples and the Church said it will not change its existing doctrine, that Holy Matrimony “is between one man and one woman for life”.
A spokesperson for the Archbishop said: “The Archbishop agreed to meet for a private conversation with MPs and it’s disappointing that some parliamentarians have chosen not to honour the terms of the meeting.
“We do not recognise the account of the private discussion as it has been leaked, which was much more nuanced and complex than how it has been described.”