Over the Easter weekend, the UK paper The Telegraph ran a multipart interview with ++Justin Welby which covers a lot of ground.
He further clarifies, though doesn’t really walk back, his earlier statements linking attacks on Christians in Africa with increased support for LGBTQ rights in the West.
So in what sense was he misunderstood? “What I said is that I have been in places where that has been the reason given for attacking people,” he says. “Now, as I said then – and this is where there was misinterpretation – that doesn’t mean that you don’t do certain things. That would just be giving in to that kind of terror.” To argue that you should not bless a gay marriage here just in case it might cause a killing over there would be a kind of moral blackmail, wouldn’t it? “It would be. You can’t say, ‘We’re not going to do X, which we think is right, because it will cause trouble.’ That’s ridiculous.”
Instead, he is trying to acknowledge the need and suffering on each side and look through consultation for a way that will allow the Church to serve them both – however unlikely that may seem.
“We are struggling with the reality that there are different groups around the place that the Church can do – or has done – great harm to,” he says. “You look at some of the gay, lesbian, LGBT groups in this country and around the world – Africa included, actually – and their experience of abuse, hatred, all kinds of things.
“We must both respond to what we’ve done in the past and listen to those voices extremely carefully. Listen with love and compassion and sorrow. And do what is possible to be done, which is not always a huge amount,” he says.
Read the rest of the interview’s Part 1 here.
Read Part 2, where he discusses the difficulties he has had confronting the Church of England’s web of investments, here.