Archbishop of Canterbury: ignoring views on gay marriage is 'foolish'
The Church of England needs to acknowledge the revolution in attitudes to sexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury said as he warned ignoring issues like gay marriage would be “foolish".
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said there had been a “revolution” in attitudes to homosexuality and the economy, particularly among young people.
Speaking to more than 6,000 people at a conference, Archbishop Welby said the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act had been “crushing” for the church, but was something it needed to listen and respond to.
"I spoke against it and voted against it but I listened and I heard the roar of revolution,” said the Archbishop, as he described listening to the debate on The Same Sex Marriage Act.
"It came not merely from those one would expect but from every side of the house, Conservatives, Liberals and Labour, of every age and sex.
"Those of us against the act were utterly crushed in the voting again, and again, and again.
"There were more people who turned out to vote than the House of Lords than experienced in World War Two.
"But popular opinion is not a case for changing obedience to God.
"But, let me be equally clear, an overwhelming change which effects the opinions of the majority of people, especially our young people, is a revolution we must pay attention too.
"Not to do so would be foolish.”
The Archbishop has previously warned church leaders about hostility because of their opposition to gay rights and same sex marriage, and earlier this month promised to launch a new campaign aimed at tackling anti-gay bullying in church schools.
He was speaking at The New Wine conference in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Archbishop Welby added: "We are in a time of revolution and we need another revolution in the church.
"What it looks like I do not know but I want to be in it."
He also said the church’s attitude to gay people had not always been right and warned listeners against the power of negative religion.
He added: “The more we harp on with the negative and fail to show love, to proclaim ministry to the poor, the more we give in to those who give in to the Gospel.
“Indifference is far more dangerous than not-believing. That keeps me awake at night."
The Archbishop recently found himself at the centre of a scandal involving pay day lenders Wonga, after he said he wanted to “compete” companies like Wonga out of existence by expanding credit unions. It was then found that the Church of England’s own pension fund had links to the lender.
He described the reaction to his comments and subsequent publicity as “astonishing.”