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Archbishop of Canterbury apologises to Ghana Church leaders over LGBT statement

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises to Ghana Church leaders over LGBT statement

Staff writer
13 November 2021

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he should have spoken to Anglican leaders in Ghana before issuing his statement.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised to Anglican leaders in Ghana after publicly criticising their support for a Bill criminalising LGBT relationships without speaking to them first.

Archbishop Justin Welby said in a statement last month that he was "gravely concerned" by the support of the Anglican Church of Ghana for the Bill, which also makes it a crime to advocate for LGBT rights.

The statement reminded Ghanaian Church leaders of Resolution I:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which assures LGBT people "that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ."

Welby said it was his intention to meet soon with leaders of the Anglican Church of Ghana to raise his concerns with them directly and Lambeth Palace confirmed on Friday that this meeting had now taken place.

It was held online on 3 November and joined by the Anglican Archbishop of Ghana, Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, as well as several Ghanaian bishops and clergy.

During the meeting, they discussed the draft Bill and Welby apologised for failing to speak to them about his own views before issuing his statement.

"I welcomed this conversation, which should have happened before my previous statement. That is not mere diplomacy: Christ commands us to speak directly and prayerfully with our brothers and sisters. I apologised for failing to do so," said Welby.

"We affirmed that the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 represents the last and most widely accepted statement by the Anglican Communion on the question of human sexuality.

"We agreed that all human beings are made in God's image and are worthy of love, respect and dignity, and that the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and communities."

Archbishop Welby ended with a commitment to speak with leaders of the Anglican Church of Ghana before making future statements.

"This was a conversation between equals: I have no authority over the Church of Ghana, nor would I want any," he said.

"I say that partly because of Britain's colonial history in Ghana, but also because of the very nature of the Anglican Communion. We are a global family of churches who are autonomous but interdependent: a holy, catholic, apostolic Church bound together by history, sacraments, liturgy, and the love of Jesus Christ for each and every person.

"One of the key conclusions of the meeting is that human dignity is always paramount, and that cultural, social and historical contexts must also be considered and understood.

"I encourage continued good conversation with the Anglican Church of Ghana, with the same courteous but clear and robust conversation as I experienced, ahead of any future public statements."

VOL: We believe this is possibly the 10th or 11th apology Archbishop Welby has made to date.

The Church Times reported on 27 October how the Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly rebuked the Anglican Church of Ghana for supporting a draft Bill proposing to criminalise LGBT identity and same sex relationships. The Archbishop's intervention has been followed by a number of Church of England bishops, and a statement which supporters can sign has been set up on the evangelical blog site Psephizo.

Some points to bear in mind in response:

How can we best express our desire to see all people, especially historically despised minorities, treated with justice and dignity?
In making critical statements about our brothers and sisters in different cultures, can we be honest about our motivation: is it genuine concern for the global church, or 'virtue signalling' to peers in the West?
As we pray and consider action, we could ask ourselves: do we actually have any relationship with the Church in Ghana? Do we understand the local context? How will they feel about being told what to do by affluent white Europeans, especially those who showed no interest in their country and church before this?
The Church in Ghana has distinguished between those with same sex attraction and those involved in same sex relationships, and has called for an end for "harassment" of LGBT people. In what ways could this positive shift become a basis for engagement in fellowship with the Ghanaian church, building on shared concern for upholding of biblical truth and wholesome family life, standing together against negative impacts of secular Western ideologies, showing compassion and pastoral care for individuals struggling with sexual attraction and gender identity issues?

Synod: Archbishop Justin's remarks on the Church of Ghana

Nov. 16, 2021

Speaking at General Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury said homophobia, including the criminalisation of LGBTQ+ people, is always wrong in any context - and that the Anglican Church in Ghana does not condone the criminalisation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Archbishop Justin said:

"In response to the point made by the chair of the Business Committee, I wanted to make a couple of comments about the situation in our relations with the Anglican Church in Ghana. As I said in my first statement on the matter - which still stands - homophobia, including the criminalisation of LGBTQ+ people is always wrong in any context. Lambeth 1.10 1998 makes this very clear, as do various communiques by the Primates since then. Additionally, and importantly in this matter, while not condoning same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church in Ghana does not condone the criminalisation of the LGBTQ+ community.

"I continue to pray for and seek to support all those who struggle and suffer in the LGBTQ+ community and all those who suffer also from the ongoing effects of colonialism and imbalances of global power. As with many of the differences and divisions within the Anglican Communion, as Archbishop and as one of the Instruments of Communion and what is called a 'focus of unity', I carry on numerous discussions in private which if made public would be rendered useless or even harmful.

"Please join me in praying for the bishops of the Anglican Church in Ghana as they seek to bring the light and life of Christ to decision-making processes in their own country, and to influence their government in defending the most vulnerable in their society."

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