Archbishops Differ on Practice if Not on Principle

Archbishops Differ on Practice if not on Principle

Archbishop Justin Welby has revealed that he will not bless same-sex relationships, while Archbishop Stephen Cotterell has indicated his intention to do so.

Explaining his decision, the Archbishop of Canterbury clarified he was ‘really pleased’ that such blessings could be offered, but stressed that he would abstain from offering them personally in order to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion.

“I have a pastoral responsibility for the whole Anglican Communion. While I will be extremely joyfully celebrating these new resources, I will not personally use them in order not to compromise that pastoral care.”

“That is a self-denying ordinance, but it comes out of the global responsibility.”

Archbishop Stephen Cottrell of York was more forthright, “I believe the great gift of sexual and physical intimacy to be cherished belongs in stable, loving committed relationship; therefore I will celebrate the fact that people are living that way and expressing their intimacy that way.”

Self-denial is usually understood as the denial of something one wants to do. For Archbishop Welby to speak of his decision not to bless same-sex couples as ‘a self-denying ordinance’ will not reassure the majority of Anglican bishops worldwide about his real intention. Indeed it suggests the only difference between the two English Archbishops is one of practice and not of principle.