The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Church of England and the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a 77-million-strong denomination and the third largest Christian sect worldwide.
While his predecessor has admitted the Church’s attitude toward gay relationships has been “harmful” and that it should be advocating equality, Welby is expected to take a more hardline view—even if he wants to keep the dialogue polite.
“I support the House of Bishop’s statement in the summer in answer to the government’s consultation on same-sex marriage. I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully.
I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love.”
The issue of gay marriage has threatened to fracture the Anglican Church, as African diocese threaten to break away if the Mother Church embrace it—some have said Williams failed “restore the Communion to Biblical faith and morality.”
Welby, a former oil executive, will be enthroned on March 21, 2013.
Photo: Diocese of Durham