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New Archbishop of Canterbury stands firm against same-sex marriages

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that there will be no retreat by the Church of England in its opposition to same-sex marriages. The announcement came within minutes of his formal confirmation into the post.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We have made our views clear and I'm very much with the House of Bishops on this," Welby said, backing the Synod body which contains the Church's bishops. "The Government wants it. We think there are issues around the way it is going forward."

Welby's clear message denies the Prime Minister any possibility of a compromise with the Church of England. The church bluntly told MPs it does not trust the promises of the Government that churches will be shielded from the impact of gay marriage law.

However, the Archbishop tried to reassure Cameron that he is not looking to open up his stewardship of the Church of England by picking a fight with the Government. "It is not a collision course. It's just part of the normal discussion that one has," Welby said.

"I have no idea how the vote will go, so I am not going to get into hypothetical questions. I stand, as I have always stood over the last few months, with the statement I made at the announcement of my appointment, which is that I support the Church of England's position on this. We have made many statements about this and I stick with that."

The Church made its final verdict in a briefing paper drawn up for MPs, encouraging them to vote against the legislation. The paper said that church leaders do not trust the Government's promises that churches will be immune from legal retribution if they fail to conduct same-sex weddings.

"We retain serious doubts about whether the proffered legal protection for churches and faiths from discrimination claims would prove durable. Too much emphasis, we believe, is being placed on the personal assurances of ministers," the paper read.

In the meantime, the British government claims a "quadruple lock" will ensure churches are not forced to conduct gay marriages. The church has warned a European court ruling could find against the safeguard.

The paper also warned about "uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms."

The church reiterated that "reshaping and unnecessary politicizing of a fundamental social institution" was not advertised in election manifestos.

The 57-year-old Welby spoke after a confirmation service at St Paul's Cathedral marked the formal beginning of his job as Archbishop. The final step in the process will be his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral next month.

A father of five, Welby said he looked forward to his new role "but also felt challenged and awed by it. It is an enormous privilege and my experience is to trust in the grace of God, not in your own abilities."

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