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Welby Apologises to Ghanian Bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, has apologised to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Ghana for not having consulted with them before criticising their stance on a bill before the Ghanian parliament that would have outlawed LGBTQ+ behaviour and advocating for the behaviour in the West African nation.

The bill called, “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanian Family Values Bill 2021” carries a sentence of five years in prison for self-identifying as LGBTQ+. Anyone found guilty of promoting LGBTQ+ rights would receive a ten-year prison sentence.  Some Ghanian bishops were in support of the bill which had broad support within the nation of 32,000,000.  It is speculated that approximately 90% of Ghanians approve the legislation.

Welby had said in a 26 October statement that he had “grave concerns” over the legislation and called upon the Ghanian bishops to remember Lambeth 1:10.  Lambeth 1:10 is a resolution passed by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 that specifically addressed human sexuality.

Describing his conversation with the Most Revd Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Ghana, Welby said, “I welcomed this conversation, which should have happened before my previous statement,” he continued; “That is not mere diplomacy: Christ commands us to speak directly and prayerfully with our brothers and sisters. I apologised for failing to do so.

“We affirmed that the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 represents the last and most widely accepted statement by the Anglican Communion on the question of human sexuality. We agreed that all human beings are made in God’s image and are worthy of love, respect and dignity, and that the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and communities.”

Lambeth 1:10 also specifically set out that the Anglican Communion’s agreement that homosexual behaviour as being incompatible with Scripture. 

Many have criticised that the Archbishop of Canterbury was quick to point out his problems with the Ghanian legislation whilst never mentioning Lambeth 1:10 to those in the West who want to mainstream full acceptance LGBTQ+ sexuality into the life of the Church.

Welby went on: “This was a conversation between equals: I have no authority over the Church of Ghana, nor would I want any. I say that partly because of Britain’s colonial history in Ghana, but also because of the very nature of the Anglican Communion. We are a global family of churches who are autonomous but interdependent: a holy, catholic, apostolic Church bound together by history, sacraments, liturgy, and the love of Jesus Christ for each and every person.”

He concluded: “One of the key conclusions of the meeting is that human dignity is always paramount, and that cultural, social and historical contexts must also be considered and understood. I encourage continued good conversation with the Anglican Church of Ghana, with the same courteous but clear and robust conversation as I experienced, ahead of any future public statements.”

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