Welby: Barring gay bishops’ spouses ‘painful’ but necessary

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Speaking to The Times of London, the Archbishop of Canterbury has broken his silence on his decision to exclude the spouses of gay bishops from this summer’s Lambeth Conference. He said the decision was “painful” but he was in a “lose-lose” in which he made the choice that would attract the most bishops to the conference.

From The Times (in a largely pay-walled article):

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he had to make the “painful” decision to ban gay bishops from bringing their spouses to a leading conference to avoid a boycott from traditionalist church leaders.

Breaking his silence over the row, the Most Rev Justin Welby told The Times that he found himself in a “lose-lose situation”.

Christian Today has a report derived from The Times article:

“Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation,” he said.

He continued: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

Pictured: Archbishop Justin and his wife Caroline.

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Charles Hill
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Charles Hill

I believe the Archbishop should bar all bishop spouses to Lambeth no matter their sexual orientation in order to gather as many bishops as possible. That signals equality of purpose and though sad, displays equanamity and wisdom.

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Cameron Lerer
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Cameron Lerer

If some people won't attend because gay spouses are invited, and you really, REALLY want those people TO attend, the moral decision is not that hard. Do not invite ANY spouses. There, fixed it for you.

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Steve Price
Guest
Steve Price

At least one member of Parliament has suggested the Archbishop's action may violate England's workplace discrimination laws.Maybe this conference should be moved to Nigeria where discrimination is the regular order and the local Anglican Provinces support it.

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JoS. S Laughon
Guest

It's surprising to see Justin Cantuar show some backbone now and then.

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Gregory Orloff
Guest
Gregory Orloff

He didn't show any backbone. He didn't say, "I disagree with same-sex marriage and think it's wrong, therefore I wouldn't invite same-sex spouses of bishops." He resorted to a typical politician's ploy: "Golly gee, I was put in a bind, it was painful, but I had no choice, it was a lose-lose situation." Showing backbone would have been, "Since there's disagreement among Anglicans about same-sex marriage, no spouses are invited. Lambeth is simply about bishops gathering, so spouses need not be there."

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Tammy Smecker-Hane
Guest
Tammy Smecker-Hane

A sad lack of leadership and courage. It was his role to lead the way with love, and it was the role of those attending to make the choice to go or not to go if the disagreed. Sometimes the most important thing a leader does is let outhers fall flat on their faces so they can learn and overcome. You can't overcome phobias about LGBT folks by ignoring or overloking them! You need to meet them. Sadly, this will be a missed opportunity to do that.

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Donna Horton
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Donna Horton

Why didn't he disinvite ALL the spouses rather than some of the spouses? It seems the Anglican Communion has elected an invertebrate as archbishop.

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JoS. S Laughon
Guest

It would appear the opposite. The invertebrate thing would be to take no stand at all which is what a universal dis-invitation would be.

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Gregory Orloff
Guest
Gregory Orloff

No, a universal dis-invitation would have shown backbone by showing respect and equity to all. Welby didn't say, "I disagree with same-sex marriage and think it's wrong, so that's why I did this" -- which would be taking a stand. He simply weaseled by whining, "I was put in a lose-lose situation, golly gee, it was painful, I had no choice."

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Donna Horton
Guest
Donna Horton

Sooo... he wants to attract as many warm bodies as possible to his event, and it does not matter whether or not they are living up to their baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being. Why didn't he disinvite ALL the spouses, rather than some of the spouses? Oh wait! I know the answer: the Anglican Communion seems to have ordained an invertebrate as archbishop.

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Clark W Lemons
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Clark W Lemons

It is not necessary that spouses attend. A bishop's partner in life is not a canonical position. Spouses sometimes aren't interested; many have demanding vocations or careers of their own. Why turn this minor issue into a rejection of same sex partners?

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Rev. David Justin Lynch
Guest

Total lack of backbone, total concession to politics. I have ZERO respect for Welby. What a despicable person. I am happy to have left the Anglican Communion.

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Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Then just invite no spouses. They represent nobody no matter what their sexual orientation. I speak as a clergy spouse.

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Leonardo Luis Diaz Medina
Guest
Leonardo Luis Diaz Medina

Geez! It's flagrant how straights don't want us!

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Mike
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Mike

Disgusting. I am ashamed to be an Anglican today.

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C.R. Russell
Guest

Silly to include an article for JWelby to attempt an explanation of his exclusionary move. No one, I'm sure, was at all unclear why he made his decision. His reasoning is foolish, of course.

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Leslie
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Leslie

Terrible decision. Hugely divisive error. You are a leader who should be setting an example of Jesdus' love and inclusion. Epic fail. You should resign.

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Brett Jellerson
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Brett Jellerson

Then he should not have invited ANY spouses.
Actually, what is the purpose of inviting spouses? That could have made the lose-lose situation a win-win.

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Carol Hesselbach
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Carol Hesselbach

It should have been a simple decision: If you cannot invite all you do not invite any.

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Rev. Susan B. Haynes
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Rev. Susan B. Haynes

Jesus never pushed the envelope too far, did He? "When many of his disciples heard it, they said, 'This teaching is difficult; who can accept it? ' But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, 'Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life....' Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him." (John 6:60-66)

Jesus didn't make decisions based on the number of people He could attract. In fact, it seemed as if He wanted only those who truly could take up their cross.

If all of the spouses are not invited, none of them should be.

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Canon Susan Russell
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Canon Susan Russell

When faced with a lose-lose situation, losing by including those who are yearning to come rather than pandering to those who are threatening to leave seems to me means "losing" the way Jesus "lost." Choosing otherwise seems a sad and ironic way for the Archbishop of Canterbury to enter Holy Week but there you have it: another episode in "As The Anglican World Turns."

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Mary Palmer
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Mary Palmer

He insulted all people who believe that love doesn't have to be limited but needs to be respected in all ways. I think this is a sad testimony of a church that is shrinking not just in size but also in its impact on the world.

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Joe McLellan
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Joe McLellan

Jesus wept.

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Kathleen Stark
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Kathleen Stark

If none of the spouses are invited, gay or straight then I can not see why that would be a problem. If only same sex spouses are excluded then it is a BIG problem. All spouses should be included, of course, but I can see why the Archbishop is between a rock and a hard place. The only way to get the most people who need to talk to each other together is the path he is taking.
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Diane P Coon
Guest

Welby made a political decision, not a moral one. So he joins a couple hundred popes and bishops that led the institutional church to disconnect with morality. Instead of a teaching moment about all God's children. I personally prefer Bishop Tutu's and Bishop Michael Curry's vision of Christianity.

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Michael Gillum
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Michael Gillum

I count this rank hypocrisy on the part of the Lambeth Conference and the Communion when they kowtowed like t his to the African dioceses in 1988. https://www.anglicancommunion.org/resources/document-library/lambeth-conference/1988/resolution-26-church-and-polygamy.aspx

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

They didn't just kowtow, Mr. Gillum... Lambeth 1988 actually *reversed* Lambeth 1888's previous ruling on the inadmissibility of polygamy in the church!

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Sue Roediger
Guest
Sue Roediger

I did not know that ! Disgraceful !

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Sue Foley-Currie
Guest
Sue Foley-Currie

Yeats azqL6ago Canada had a lesbian Archbishop. The Lambeth “boys” who were attending were upset that as a woman heaven forbid she was asked by the top girl’s scoop to speak and preside for them at Westminster. Imagine such a terrible thing a woman there!!! Thankfully the Queen stepped in and it all happened.

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Sue Foley-Currie
Guest
Sue Foley-Currie

As an ordained Canadian I am horrified. Jesus must be as well. It seem the far right movement from Trump and friends has invaded the Church of England and even their House of Lords. If he keeps this mantra going he will turn most churches into museums or for far right members only. He needs to retire.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Rowan Williams wasn't fond of the Episcopal Church USA and our inclusion of people like me. In the Church of England, this behavior pre-dates Trump.

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Roland LaScala
Guest
Roland LaScala

Why are spouses necessary? Exclude them all to be fair.

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Bruce Babcock
Guest
Bruce Babcock

“Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality." What does this mean? Are they also "conservative" on issues of height? Shoe size? Hair color? The age of the universe? The Iron Age is over, according to my calendar.

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Jamie Samilio
Guest
Jamie Samilio

No spouses should have been invited, or all. And by all, I mean including the Bishops who have more than one wife -- it is a cultural exception that is granted to them. Having more than one wife is accepted in their society. Bp. Welby has decided to honor their cultural differences, but not those of the Episcopal Church in the USA. I think Jesus would have invited everyone to the table -- even the sinners! And at this conference, those whose sin is judgment will be there in abundance.

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Sue Roediger
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Sue Roediger

If the "rules" can be relaxed to accommodate bishops with multiple wives......

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Ann Culp
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Ann Culp

What would Jesus do? Can't say I agree with you. My Jesus is all inclusive and those who exclude people because of any issue must have a different Jesus.

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Sue Myers
Guest
Sue Myers

I am sad to hear this. We are all God’s children and I believe we should be inclusive. We are not the judge we are to love all. I love that we are open enough to allow all to share their views in a public forum with respect. Only when we can talk openly will we learn to accept and love those who are different than we are. It is a process - we are all learning and growing. I pray for equality for all and that one day we will be completely inclusive. That is my dream.

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Ronald Ross
Guest
Ronald Ross

Sorry, Mr. Archbishop, but you're in or you're out on this issue. Genesis 1:27 KJV - “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

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Glenn Dunn
Guest
Glenn Dunn

If that was his painful choice & for his stated reason, he should have excluded ALL spouses/partners. To do otherwise was to make an unacceptable & political statement. The Archbishop's wife should be the first one to say, 'Tough choice. In solidarity with ALL, I will not attend.'

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

A person who doesn't know when to stop digging. There's simply no excuse, it was hurtful enough when it was a private affair. However, when the Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon decided to publicize it widely on his blog, he put the bishops, their spouses, and their children on the sacrificial chopping block. That just isn't the Gospel, from the Jesus side, anyway.

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Allison
Guest
Allison

[Allison - in the future please include your first and last name on comments - eds.]

Perhaps in a bind Welby should have disinvited All spouses, or utilized this moment of discomfort for traditionalists as one of teaching tolerance and growth, in a time when we so desperately need to counter the violence and intolerance around the world.. Instead he placed value on the lives of our family, discounting the dignity and integrity of a certain group. It's appalling, dispicable and fails to uphold our Baptismal covenant.

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Alice Lee Penrod
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Alice Lee Penrod

Not necessary, just small minded and mean spirited.

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Pegam Johnson III
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Pegam Johnson III

The Episcopal Church in the USA has c. 1 million members.The Anglican Communion the last time I looked has about 80 million. So who are we to impose our values (which I believe in personally) onto cultures with very different value systems. Most Anglicans I believe are in Africa. Much of the work was begun by the Church Missionary Society, a conservative organization. I worked once in a CMS operation. Huff and puff as you will.

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Gregory Orloff
Guest
Gregory Orloff

Are any of the Anglican bishops from Africa polygamists? And if so, will they be bringing all their wives? After all, Lambeth 1988 made allowance for receiving polygamists into the church without altering their family situation, while stating that monogamy is God's norm -- a reversal of Lambeth 1888, which forbade receiving polygamists "as in" into the church. "Not imposing our values onto cultures with very different value systems" cuts both ways. Perhaps the same charity could be shown to cultures that countenance marriage between monogamous couples of the same gender as is shown to cultures that countenance polygamous marriage between one person and two or more spouses simultaneously. Charity and forbearance over differences all around -- what an idea!

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Gwen Palmer
Guest
Gwen Palmer

I’m not clear on how inviting all spouses imposes anything on bishops from provinces that don’t accept the legitimacy of gay marriage.

Of course, I don’t mean to play naïve and deny that they will feel that something is being imposed on them. But it’s the same outcry that happens in every controversy over inclusivity, everywhere, every time. Those who oppose (any inclusive initiative) usually claim that those who favor (inclusive initiative) are somehow imposing it on them - as though they won’t be free to adopt and live by their differing tenets, if the inclusive idea is adopted. This never gets resolved. Inclusion will lose every time, if opponents’ claim that their beliefs are being imposed on is allowed to prevail.

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