AUCKLAND, New Zealand, November 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite apparent support for same-sex “marriage” from leadership in the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted recently at a youth forum in New Zealand that most of those who fill the pews of Anglican Churches around the world favor a traditional definition of marriage.
According to a Taonga News report, the comment came during a question-and-answer session in which one of the participants asked, “New Zealand is debating a bill to authorize same sex marriage. What do Anglicans have to say about same sex marriage?”
“The Anglican Church has quite a lot to say about this issue – but it’s not always the same thing that people are saying,” Williams responded. “I’d say that for the vast majority of Anglicans in the world, the idea of same-sex marriage is not something they can come to terms with.”
Bishop Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, who was also present at the event, responded to the question by saying that homosexuals “should have the same ability to live in a covenanted relationship with another person” as heterosexuals.
The issue of same-sex “marriage” has been a divisive one for the Anglican Communion. The ordination in the U.S. of openly homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson caused a rift between conservative and liberal factions in the church, which was deepened this year when the Episcopalian House of Bishops approved a blessing for homosexual unions.
Archbishop Peter Robinson, Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church of North America, a conservative branch of Anglicanism that is outside the Anglican Communion, told LifeSiteNews.com that Rowan’s comments at the youth forum reveal that, whatever position the archbishop might personally maintain on the issue, he is a “realist” about the state of the Anglican Church.
“He is aware of the fact that the major provinces of the Anglican Communion – Nigeria, Uganda, Central Africa – are opposed to the ‘normalization’ of homosexuality, and in consequence, to gay marriage,” Archbishop Robinson commented.
Williams, who, as Archbishop of Canterbury, heads the Anglican Communion, has been evasive in his public statements on the issue. In a private letter to a Christian psychiatrist in South Wales, however, he wrote that a homosexual relationship could “reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage,” if it had the “character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.” The letter was made public by the London Times in 2009.
In an interview earlier this fall with the Daily Telegraphl, Williams, who will retire in December, criticized the recent push to legalize same-sex “marriage” in England, lamenting the prime minister’s “inadequate consultation” with the church and the potential “tangle” it would cause if the church and the state had different definitions of marriage.
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However, he told the news service, he was also critical of the church’s approach to the issue. “We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people and we were wrong about that,” he said.
Archbishop Robinson told LifeSiteNews.com that homosexuality was one of a “long list of issues” that divide the former colonial provinces in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand from those in Africa, South America and Asia.
However, there are “wings of the Church” around the world that oppose same-sex “marriage” “on the basis of Scripture and Natural Law,” Robinson said.
Bishop Rowan, however, denied that any serious division existed in the church in comments that were reported last week by the Church of England newspaper.
“We are not, whatever some people say, we are not as an Anglican Communion mainly paralyzed by controversy. We are not torn apart by argument over issues,” he said. “We are still seeking to work together more effectively.”