Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK 'Savagely Divided' - Archbishop Of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is urging Christians to put aside divisions over sexuality and 'reimagine Britain' in the face of 'a fascist tradition of politics'.
In a heated first day of the Church of England's biannual parliament – general synod – on Monday, Justin Welby urged 'restraint' as conservative and liberal members locked horns over gay relationships.
He said the UK's public language was 'savagely divided' and in pointed remarks called on the Church to help Britain overcome populism and fascism after Donald Trump's election as US President and the UK's vote to leave the European Union.
In his presidential address, Welby said: 'There are a thousand ways to explain the Brexit vote, or the election of President Trump, or the strength in the polls in Holland of Geert Willders or in France of Madame Le Pen and many other leaders in a nationalist, populist, or even fascist tradition of politics.'
He added: 'This is a moment to reimagine Britain, a moment of potential opportunity, certainly combined with immensely hard work and heavy lifting.'
The CofE must use its role through thousands of Church schools and parishes across the UK to take the 'extraordinary opportunity to be part of reimagining a new Britain, its practices, values, aspirations and global role'.
He said: 'This could be a time of liberation, of seizing and defining the future, or it could be one in which the present problems seize our national future and define us.'
His address marks the start of the CofE's synod that will see the Church's hierarchy look to appease deep rifts over gay relationships.
Canon Simon Butler, a gay member of synod was sent a text by another member as the meeting began that asked personal question which were 'borderline harassment', he said.
Welby said the abuse was 'inexcusable' and 'a perfect illustration of how not to act'.
The Archbishop sought to diffuse tensions as he urged members to avoid the 'temptation to self-indulgence through simplicity and the open and genuine expression of love in action'.
It comes before the synod will debate a report that refuses to change Church teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman.
The bishops' report promised 'maximum freedom' for gay couples within current laws and called for 'a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support' for LGBT people.
But the lack of change and the tone from the Church leaders sparked outrage from the CofE's liberal wing who have launched a campaign not to 'take note' of the report.
If the report is struck down in the vote, it cannot be raised again until the end of this synodical cycle in 2020.