Faith and religion

Archbishop of Canterbury to LGBTI community: Sorry!

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met briefly with LGBTI protesters and also apologized for pains that the Anglican Communion has caused for LGBTI people. (Photo courtesy of ITV)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met briefly with LGBTI protesters and also apologized for pains that the Anglican Communion has caused for LGBTI people. (Photo courtesy of ITV)

The Archbishop of Canterbury apologized today to the LGBTI community for the “hurt and pain” caused by the Anglican Church.

Facing protesters, particularly those from Africa, was a reminder of the “pain and suffering of many LGBTI people around the world,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. He did not name any of the branches of the Anglican Church that have caused — and continue to cause — that pain and suffering. Nor did he suggest that the church would stop causing the pain that he was apologizing for.

Anti-gay Anglican churches in the developing world are major supporters of repression and stigmatization of LGBTI people in their countries, most prominently in Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.  In terms of accepting same-sex marriage, the Episcopal Church is the primary exception in the 85-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

Welby talked with some of the dozens of  protesters, organized by the Out and Proud Diamond Group of LGBTI African refugees, who traveled to Canterbury to demonstrate for fair treatment of LGBTI people.  The theme of the protest was “Listen to LGBTI people.”  They chanted “Shame on you” in the cathedral precincts, where 38 Anglican Primates met this week at Welby’s invitation to try to avoid a schism over exclusion and inclusion of LGBTI people.

In a press conference, Welby said:

“It’s a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality. I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country.”

At the same time, he defended this week’s decision by leaders of the Anglican Communion to suspend its U.S.-based member, the Episcopal Church, for allowing marriages of same-sex couples.

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