"People will die, women will be raped, children will be tortured..."
Today, Welby was brought to the brink of tears by the seriousness of the decisions being debated. He had to pause to compose himself.
It was not surprising. Synod had been asked to consider the impact on the rest of the Anglican Communion of the Bishops’ decision to publish prayers of blessing for couples outside of heterosexual marriage.
A simple amendment had been proposed by Mrs Busola Sodeinde, who proudly displayed her Nigerian and UK Passports as she spoke. She asked that the Synod should ask the Secretary General of the Synod to personally consult the Primate of each Province of the Anglican Communion about the potential impact of the Bishops’ proposals.
The Archbishop of Canterbury stood to speak.
“I am genuinely torn. It is not just about listening to the rest of the world, it is caring. Let’s just be clear on that. It’s about people who will die, women who will be raped, children who will be tortured.”
“When we vote”, he said, “we need to think about that – It is not just about what people will say – it is about what they will suffer.”
And yet – he called on Synod to reject the motion, because it was not the Secretary General of Synod’s job to phone Primates.
Instead, the Archbishop of Canterbury promised that he would ask his own Advisor for Anglican Communion affairs, Bishop Anthony Poggo, to make the calls. A man, who unlike the Secretary General of Synod is not accountable to Synod for what he finds out.
The Archbishop finished his speech by saying,
“Please reject this amendment – not because the spirit is wrong – but because it is wrongly structured, and we must also do right here, as part of the church catholic as I said in my opening speech.”
And there it is. The Archbishop of Canterbury is torn – he realises the implications of the decision that he is asking the Church of England to make:
People will die, women will be raped, children will be tortured.
The Church of England’s relationship with the church catholic will be impaired, as Archbishop Angaelos, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London and Papal Legate to the UK, quietly and diplomatically warned in a later speech.
So, why is the Archbishop of Canterbury prepared to risk all that?
Because, “We must also do right here.”
As the speaker before him, said, “Yes I do care what the rest of the world thinks – but we have to do what is right for us.”
If Synod, endorses the motion put before them today. If the Bishops go through with this plan. They cannot say they were not aware of the consequences.
Lord have mercy.