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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Welby under fire after gay bishops told not to bring spouses to CofE conference

Archbishop Justin Welby is facing criticism after gay bishops were told that they should not bring their spouses to the forthcoming Lambeth Conference in Canterbury next year.

It is the first time that married gay bishops have been invited to the conference, which usually takes every 10 years.

But critics say the move, designed to appease conservative African clerics, fails to afford same-sex unions the same status as marriage between men and women.

Speaking ahead of the conference next year, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in 2014 became the first Church of England priest to marry his same-sex partner, said: “They will be no doubt be inviting all sorts of spouses of bishops who have been married before or remarried once, twice or several times.

“t is the usual hypocrisy from the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

“There is no sense to it. The basic problem is they don’t understand hospitality.

“The same-sex partners should be invited. If they don’t wish to come, they don’t have to come. But this is grossly inhospitable. It is just rude and bad. It is not complicated.”

The Church of England and Anglican Communion have been split by widely diverging attitudes over issues of sexuality and gender.

The decision to ban spouses from same sex couples was announced by Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion.

He said: “The invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage, which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman.

“That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

“Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.”

The next Lambeth Conference is due to take place at the University of Kent over 11 days beginning on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

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