Welby staying quiet on LGBT views

(Photo: Lambeth Conference)

Justin Welby has suggested he will refrain from sharing his own views about same-sex marriage so long as he is the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Speaking to The Times, the Archbishop said his role was to be a "focus of unity" for the Anglican Communion, which has been deeply divided over the issue for decades. 

"I am not sure I will be able to say during my time in this job. I can express my own view as far as I know my own mind — and it doesn't change," he said.

"But the role of archbishop is to be a focus of unity. That isn't just convenient or pragmatic. In Christian thinking, that is part of God's call to church leaders. Therefore I have to be convinced before God that it's the right moment to do it — and not just politically."

He was speaking to the newspaper ahead of a two-day meeting of bishops this week, being held to discuss the proposals they will bring to the next General Synod in February 2023. 

The bishops have been meeting regularly to discuss feedback to Living in Love and Faith (LLF), a yearslong dialogue process in the Church of England on the topics of marriage, identity, sexuality and relationships. 

The Church of England hopes that the LLF process will move it towards some form of resolution. 

Responses to LLF published in September showed a strong desire for the bishops to take "bold, courageous, clear and honest" decisions, and to act soon. They also revealed broad support for the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, is one of several bishops to have gone public in the last few months with his own support for same-sex marriage. 

Evangelicals are calling on the Church of England to maintain its historic position. 

Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop​ Emeritus of Egypt, has said that if the Church of England moves towards acceptance of same-sex marriage, "pain and distress will be felt by millions of faithful Anglicans across the globe" and "significant questions would be asked as to whether Archbishop Justin Welby would be able to continue to lead the Anglican Communion".