New Archbishop stands by gay marriage criticism

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THE NEW Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that he stands by the Church of England’s criticism of legislation to introduce gay marriage, as he was formally confirmed in office.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he had “no idea” how today’s vote by MPs on same-sex marriage would go, but he stood by the statement he made after his appointment was announced in November backing the Church of England bishops over the issue.

He said: “I stand, as I have always stood over the last few months, with the statement I made at the announcement of my appointment, which is that I support the Church of England’s position on this.”

In November, he said he backed the Church of England bishops’ statement, which was highly critical of UK government proposals to introduce gay marriage south of the Border.

But he also warned that there must be “no truck” with any form of homophobia in any part of the Church.

He was speaking yesterday after he was formally confirmed in office as the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion in a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Archbishop, 57, a father of five, said of his new role: “I feel very challenged and very awed by it, it is an enormous privilege and my experience is to trust in the grace of God, not in your own abilities.”

Asked how he and his family were settling into Lambeth Palace, the former Bishop of Durham joked: “Um… getting lost.”

He said prayer would be his first priority on taking up office. “It is praying for the Anglican Communion, for some of the difficult situations that we are facing in this country generally – not just in the Church but across the country and across the globe,” he said.