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Justin Welby on one of the most extraordinary weeks he's ever experienced

Thu 21 Jan 2016
By Marcus Jones

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has described the Primates' meeting as one of the most extraordinary weeks he's ever experienced.

Last week, senior leaders within the Anglican Communion met together in Canterbury to discuss how they can continue being part of one body despite having vastly differing views on sexuality.

With talks of a potential split and possible walkouts by those taking part, the outcome saw all the Church leaders agreeing to continue moving forward as one, albeit with the US Episcopal Church being asked to take a back seat for three years when it comes to representing the wider Church or taking part in decision making bodies within the Communion.

In a statement on the Lambeth Palace website, the archbishop said: "Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury for a week of prayer and discussion. You might well have been following the events in the media. I want to share some thoughts of my own here about what took place last week - which was without doubt one of the most extraordinary weeks I have ever experienced."

Speaking about the role prayer played in the outcome, he said: "The first thing to say is that the week was completely rooted in prayer. The Community of St Anselm - the international young Christian community based at Lambeth Palace - took up residence in Canterbury Cathedral and prayed all day every day for the Primates as we talked together.

"As Primates we joined with all who gathered for Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evensong in the Cathedral each day. And meanwhile thousands - perhaps millions - of Anglicans and others in the Christian family around the world prayed in churches and posted prayers on social media. I want to thank everyone who prayed last week. We felt it and we appreciated it deeply."

On how the Church plans to move forward, he said: "It's clear in Christian teaching that it's not for us to divide the body of Christ, which is the church, but also that we must seek to make decisions bearing each other in mind, taking each other seriously, loving one another despite deep differences of view.

"Because of that, the unity that was so remarkably shown by the Anglican Primates in Canterbury last week is always costly. It is always painful. It feels very fragile. We are a global family of churches in 165 countries, speaking over a thousand languages and living in hundreds of different cultures - how could we not wound each other as we seek to hold together amidst great diversity?

"There will be wounds for each other, but we must repent of wounding others who are especially vulnerable, whether they are LGBTI people or those menaced by religiously-motivated violence, terrorism and exile. Some, of course, will fall in many categories."

Justin Welby suggested this isn't the end of discussions on this issue, stating "there will be plenty more to say on this in the coming weeks and months". Later this year the Church of England will have its own discussions on the issue of sexuality at its governing body General Synod. There has already been disagreements on the appointments of gay clergy.

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