Justin Welby:...What am I doing? I am trying to ensure that people meet, listen to each other, hear what each other are saying, understand each other properly, and learn afresh, where it’s not happening, to love one another as Christ commands us.
Zeinab Badawi: But you have yourself put yourself in one particular camp, and so can you really have this dialogue with an open mind, when for example you were quoted in the Daily Telegraph newspaper in August last year saying:
“we have seen changes in the idea of sexuality, sexual behaviour which quite simply mean we have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 think we are plain wrong and wicked, and equate it [i.e. I suppose homophobia] to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice."
So you clearly have indicated that you really adhere to one side of the argument, perhaps something which could be described as a more Western liberal interpretation.
JW: No, what I was doing there was commenting on the changing culture, not on my personal position, on the issue. The changing culture is undeniable. It is a simple fact of the world in which we live.
ZB: but not if you are in Africa, if you are under 35 and in Africa....
Zeinab Badawi: OK, where do you stand on the issue of gay priests and same-sex marriage for instance? I mean, what is your own personal view?
Justin Welby: My personal view has been stated very clearly in the House of Lords. I do not support the idea of same sex marriage, and I hold the teaching of the Church of England which has not changed to any degree at all, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man with one woman.
ZB: Do you think that this issue could really tear the church apart?
JW: Yes, of course it could. It’s – as I say there’s never been a moment at which the church hasn’t had disagreements over this – the first Lambeth Conference in the 19th Century was called to deal with very massive disagreements within the church on another issue.
I think, where there’s differences, at the moment, as I say, the Church of England’s view on same sex marriage is very, very clear and my own view on that is very, very clear. In this country we also need to be very, very clear about our profound opposition to homophobic behavior. And we are working on, and if I am really honest, struggling with the issue of how we recognize the love that exists between people who have a same-sex orientation; and who are committed to each other, and how that is recognized.
Now the Anglican Communion has set clear rules about that, and it’s a disagreement within the Communion that will continue for some time. My own view on same-sex marriage is one thing; my own view on same-sex unions is I recognize, again I have said in public, the immense quality and profound love and commitment of many same-sex unions. I don’t think that marriage is the appropriate way forward.
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