The Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted that the Church of England should embrace traditionalists who believe same-sex relationships are “deeply, deeply wrong”.
Archbishop Justin Welby made the comments in a panel discussion at the Greenbelt Christian festival in Northamptonshire, according to Christian Today.
During a Q&A session, the Archbishop was confronted by a gay Christian who cannot have their union blessed under the Church’s current rules.
Archbishop Welby said: “Do I know when there will be a point when the blessing [of same-sex partnerships] will happen? No. I don’t and I can’t see the road ahead.”
Speaking about the Church’s constantly-shifting position, he said “we have to find a way to love and embrace everyone who loves Jesus Christ”, including people who believe that same-sex relationships are “deeply, deeply wrong”.
He added that on both sides of the argument it was an “incredible clash that is so important to so many people and goes to the heart of the identity of so many people”.
However, he did condemn the Church’s “vicious” stance on homosexuality previously, noting that “now we just look odd”.
The audience applauded when he admitted being “constantly consumed with horror” at the way in which the Church has treated LGBT people.
Under the Archbishop’s tenure, the Church has implemented rules that banned gay clergy from entering same-sex marriages.
The rules have seen a number of gay vicars punished simply for getting married – with some hiding in fear while others were dismissed from their jobs.
A hospital chaplain who brought an employment tribunal case against the Church on the issue recently lost out – after the Church successfully argued it was exempt from the parts of the 2010 Equality Act that ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Evangelical groups within the Church of England are readying for a split, in the event that the Church opts to embrace same-sex unions.