The Australian newly elected first female Anglican Archbishop, Kay Goldsworthy, has strongly hinted that she personally backs same-sex marriage, saying she has an 'inclusive' approach to the issue but respects the wider position of the church.
Archbishop Goldsworthy, who was among the first group of women ordained to the Anglican priesthood in Australia in 1992 and became the first female bishop in 2008, this week became the first woman elected to the position of archbishop in Perth. She will officially take up the role on 10 February 2018.
Following the announcement of her appointment on Tuesday, Goldsworthy told Guardian Australia that because of her gender, she recognised what it was like to be at the centre of a debate about the traditions of the church, adding that the experience could make people 'a little more open' to others also caught up in such a debate.
She added everyone within the church, from clergy to parishioners, would have to examine their own beliefs and come to their own conclusions.
'The Anglican church's position is that in Australia marriage is between a man and a woman. One man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life,' she said.
'The more personal kind of position that I might have around these matters is one that is open to a more inclusive position, but that's not the whole church.'
Goldsworthy added that the issue of women joining the clergy was very different to the debate around same-sex marriage, but equally challenging.
'If you have been in one part of these debates perhaps you will be a little more open to others, although that's not the case for everybody,' she said. 'It's not an easy place for us as a church.'
Born in Victoria in 1956, Goldsworthy spent 22 years with the church in Perth before being appointed, in 2014, bishop of Gippsland, based in Sale in Victoria's south-east. She was ordained as bishop by her predecessor, Roger Herft, who retired early from his post as archbishop of Perth in December last year after admitting to a hearing of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse, that he had failed victims.
Goldsworthy, who is married with two adult sons, said that the church had to work to regain the trust of people disillusioned by its past failures, but that Perth had strong processes in place to ensure transparency.
She said: 'All of this needs to be very clear and there needs to be a process so that people understand that the church can be a very safe and welcoming place for the small and vulnerable. For most of us that is what the church has always been, but that does not take away from what it has not been to others.'
Earlier this week, Goldsworthy said that rising to be archbishop has not always been easy: 'Over the years it's been a mixed bag, both difficult and demanding, rough at times, but also hugely supportive being in a company of people with the same ideas.'
Goldsworthy plans to devote attention to reconciliation and family violence in her new position, according to ABC.
'I'm coming to Perth to be a Bishop to the people,' she said. 'I hope that I've got something to contribute more widely.'