The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has criticised America’s Episcopal Church for inventing a religious ceremony for gay marriages and referring to God in gender-neutral terms.
Welby, who serves as symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a member, told bishops they should be “looking outwards” to mourn the victims of terror attacks rather than focussing on internal disputes over sex.
He also said their decision would cause “distress” among the Anglican Communion and have “ramifications” for its relations with other faiths.
The ultra-liberal Episcopalian Church has created division in the Anglican Communion, with more conservative African churches objecting to its promotion of gay rights and women priests.
The Daily Mail reports that at its convention in Salt Lake City this year, the Church agreed to remove any references to marriage being between a man and a woman from its liturgy and will no longer refer to God as ‘He’.
In a statement from Lambeth Palace released Tuesday, the archbishop set out his concerns:
“The Archbishop of Canterbury expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed.
“While recognising the prerogative of the Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context, Archbishop Justin Welby said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.”
The statement then mentioned the victims of the recent Charleston shootings, saying the Church should focus more on the suffering around the world rather than indulge in identity politics.
“At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyon, and from the racist attacks in Charleston.”