Church of England would rather lose its special status than allow same-sex marriage

Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has allegedly said he would rather the Church of England lose its privileged status as the UK’s established church than allow same-sex marriage.

Justin Welby reportedly made the comments on Monday (30 January) during a private meeting with a dozen MPs at Westminster, according to The Guardian.

When asked by several MPs whether the Church of England should be allowed its privileged status while dragging its feet on marriage law, Welby allegedly said losing the status would be preferable over a global split between Church members.

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson told PinkNews that they did not recognise the comments attributed to Welby.

“The Archbishop agreed to meet for a private conversation with MPs and it’s disappointing that some parliamentarians have chosen not to honour the terms of the meeting,” they said.

“We do not recognise the account of the private discussion as it has been leaked, which was much more nuanced and complex than how it has been described.”

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Justin Welby speaks during an event while wearing a grey blazer and black sweater.
Justin Welby allegedly told MPs he would rather the Church lose its status than risk its disestablishment. (Getty)

Controversy arose when Anglican bishops chose to deny a vote on allowing same-sex couples at February’s General Synod – the Church’s national assembly.

LGBTQ+ Christians condemned the move as “ludicrous” while criticising the Church of England for its subsequent apology for the hurt its institution had caused.

In response, Welby made several moves to try and appease the community while still refusing them the basic right to marry the person they love, including permission for priests to bless couples who are already married.

He has also routinely refused to take a position on whether he explicitly believes queerness is sinful – despite already having declared his position several times before the controversy arose.

His attempts at compromise have only angered pundits on either side of the debate who have argued his “car crash” handling of the situation is “highly hypocritical.”

‘Prepared to sacrifice some of the most vulnerable’

Former LGBTQ+ advisor to the government and Christian activist Jayne Ozanne told PinkNews the alleged conversation was “a complete mockery” of the apology he made last month.

“It is clear he is prepared to sacrifice some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the world for his misguided goal of ‘unity at any cost’,” she said. “The Church and the Communion are already split on this and have been for some time.

“It’s about time the Archbishop accepted that and stood up for those of us who are paying the highest price in all of this.”

Additionally, during a House of Commons debate, Labour MP Chris Bryant said the Church’s view was causing “very real pain and trauma” to LGBTQ+ members.

Speaking to House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, who has also come out in support of same-sex marriage in Anglican churches, Bryant recommended bringing bishops to same-sex weddings.

“I hope the bishops will back reform in the end, allowing parishes and clergy to conduct weddings for same-sex couples,” Bryant said.

“I know the leader of the House agrees because I’m quoting her words in a letter to her local bishop.

“Every single one of us who goes to a gay marriage this year could take a bishop along so they get to know the love and share in it.”

Bishops have also come out in support of allowing same-sex marriage in the Church, with the bishop of Oxford saying it had “further to go” in accepting LGBTQ+ people.

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