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Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, said that “if people wish to change the doctrine of our Church (on marriage), they should start a new Church or join a Church more aligned to their views; but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of scripture. Please leave us.”
His statement provoked strong criticism among other bishops and clergy.
Reflecting sharp divisions within the global Anglican communion over LGBT+ issues, the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, said: “I regret that the archbishop [of Sydney] seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them within the wider Anglican family.”
The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy, wrote to her diocese to say that many people had been in touch with her after Dr Davies’s comments. “I am so sorry for the distress that has been caused to so many in our Church and the wider community by these comments,” she wrote. She also said: “we are committed to welcoming people as Jesus did, with the promise of his love which leads us out of the shadows of shame into the full light of God’s new day in Jesus Christ.”
As the Guardian reports, the issue is expected to dominate next summer’s Lambeth conference 2020 – a once-in-a-decade gathering of more than 1,200 Anglican bishops from around the world in Canterbury, England.
Bishops belonging to Gafcon, an alliance of conservatives deeply opposed to LGBT+ equality, have announced plans for an alternative gathering in Rwanda.
The Bishop of Liverpool told the Guardian: “I still hope that bishops from Sydney will attend the Lambeth conference next year so that we can all talk together and learn from one another there.
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner for equality within the Church of England and a member of the UK government’s LGBT advisory panel, said she was “deeply shocked and saddened” by Davies’ comments.
“Christ welcomed all – and we are all called to do the same. To do otherwise is to preach a false Gospel, one that is based on prejudice and fear. The Anglican Communion has committed itself to walking together despite our differences – Dr Davies would do well to try walking in a young LGBT person’s shoes, and recognise the blatant homophobia inherent in his remarks.”
Two years ago the Scottish Episcopal church was effectively sanctioned by global church leaders for its acceptance of same sex marriage. The US church faced similar punitive action in 2016 for its stance welcoming marriage equality.