In his first presidential address to General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the church to recognize that that the “cultural and political ground” in Britain is “changing”, and to “accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it”.
Speaking on the first day of the Synod meeting in York, on Friday evening, Archbishop Welby said that he was “not proposing new policy”, but spoke of the “notable hostility” to the Church’s current position.
“Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same-sex Marriage Bill second reading debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland; predictable attitudes were no longer there,” he said. ( News, 7 June)
“The opposition to the Bill – which included me and many other bishops – was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance in the House, and participation in a debate, and majority since 1945.
“There was notable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I feel then and feel now, is that some of what was said by those supporting the Bill was uncomfortably close to the bone.”
He said that “97 per cent of gay teenagers in the UK report homophobic bullying; and that in the USA, suicide as the result of such bullying, is the principle cause of death of gay adolescents.
“One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled.
“We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not fully heard it.
“The majority of the population rightly rejects homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. Sometimes they look at us and they see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that, I’ve resisted that thought, but in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it.”