Archbishop of Wales: Church should acknowledge and support gay civil marriages

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Archbishop of Wales has said his Church should acknowledge civil marriage equality for gay couples and work against an impression that it is ‘uncaring and unsympathetic’ and leading gay people to feel ‘unwanted, unloved, and sinful’.

According to Wales Online, Dr Morgan told the Church in Wales’ governing body: “All life-long committed relationships deserve the welcome, pastoral care and support of the Church.”

The faithful, he continued, “need to show how the Gospel of Jesus is good news for gay people”.

Dr Barry Morgan, who has been Archbishop for the Anglican communion in Wales since 2003, said in his presidential address today: “The Government’s consultation on civil marriage raises a whole host of theological questions for the church.

“My concern at the moment is that in any discussion which might ensue on this, gay people may once more gain the impression that the church is uncaring and unsympathetic.

“Things could be said in the coming months which I think could seriously damage people pastorally so it is that pastoral issue that I want to address.”

Speaking in Llandudno, he said: “Gays and lesbians claim they are still treated as second-class citizens, tolerated at best and vilified at worst. Very often homosexuality is talked about as if real people were not involved and gays and lesbians complain of being talked about rather than talked to in Church.”

He added: “The real question is, how do we hold together faithfulness to scripture and tradition with the wider New Testament call to love our neighbour?

“If the moral aim of the gospel is to encourage love of neighbours, how can that happen when people are made to feel unwanted, unloved, and sinful? How is the gospel good news for homosexuals?”

Dr Morgan concluded: “If the legislation to allow civil marriage is passed, I cannot see how we as a church, will be able to ignore the legality of the status of such partnerships and we ought not to want to do so.

“The question then, as now, is: will the church protect and support pastorally, faithful, stable, lifelong relationships of whatever kind in order to encourage human values such as love and fidelity and recognise the need in Christian people for some public religious support for these?

“As Helen says in the novel Nightwatch by Sarah Walters, a novel written in 1947 [sic], ‘What could she do to say to the world that Julia was hers?’

“She could have gone on to ask ‘What can the church do to show that this relationship is not simply something between my partner and I but that somehow God is in our midst as well and longs for our wellbeing?’ It is a discussion we need to have.”

The Reverend Andrew Morton, the vicar of Llangybi who recently resigned over the Church’s views on marriage equality and what he saw as increasing homophobia within the denomination, said the Archbishop was a “brave” man.

He told Wales Online: “I don’t think he will gain universal approval and I think there are some people who will be aghast [who] will think he’s sold out to political correctness which is a nonsense. Anybody who knows Barry knows he couldn’t give a monkey’s about political correctness.”

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, announced in March that he would be standing down as leader of the Anglican Church later this year.