Welby at Synod: Primates meeting was 'spun more than Donald Trump'

Harry Farley

The Archbishop of Canterbury today called on Christian commentators to stop doing a "Donald Trump" on the leaders of the Anglican Communion.

He criticised the "misrepresentation" that emerged from the recent Primates meeting of worldwide Anglican leaders in Canterbury.

"It has been spun more than Donald Trump," he joked.

"The spin included such elements as saying that the Primates had had their phones removed, and that they were being treated as children. Even some seasoned journalists believed this and printed it as fact."

In his presidential address opening the three-day meeting of General Synod in London, Justin Welby reported on the recent gathering of Primates where the Episcopal Church was removed from full participation in the Anglican Communion for its support of same-sex marriage.

Welby reminded Synod representatives "divisions were profound" and they "should not have any illusions of the fragility of communion".

Over the next two days members of Synod will discuss matters including human sexuality both on the Synod floor and behind the scenes. However Welby opened the assembly by urging different groups not to "strive to grab the wheel" of power.

He spoke of the importance of "freedom, order and human flourishing" and said "as a communion where authority is found in discernment, an expressed in relationship, this trio is hugely important".

"Disaster comes whenever one element has overcome the others to an excessive degree," Welby told Synod. He lamented how in Church history, "a hunger for power, masquerading as order, has very often overcome freedom, and neglected human flourishing.

"Order is essential, but it exists to assure foot washing and love, not domination," he said in a speech where he praised the "graciousness" of bishops in America and Canada who faced "consequences" for their position on homosexuality.

"The reality is that none of them [different conservative and liberal groups] do know fully, and disaster is only avoided by unity which relishes and celebrates the diversity of freedom and flourishing within broad limits of order."

The Archbishop's comments will be taken as a plea for unity as the Church looks to tackle this divisive issue.

In addition to discussions on sexuality, Synod will debate Welby's Reform and Renewal programme and ecumenical relations with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.