The Most Reverend Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, has told his colleagues in the Church of England that they face perceptions of homophobia and that they must adapt to a changing society.

“We must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality,” said Welby in a speech to the church’s governing body, the General Synod, last week at the University of York.

While he recently voted against a gay marriage bill in the House of Lords, he said that the church must take heed of growing support for gay equality.

“There is a revolution. Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland,” he said.

“There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I felt then and feel now is that some of what was said by those supporting the Bill was uncomfortably close to the bone.

“The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like,” he said.

Welby also announced the launch of a campaign to end homophobic bullying in schools run by the Church of England.

“With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying but we must also take action,” he said.

Welby, who took office as the Archbishop of Canterbury in February, is also the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which remains sharply divided over the issues of recognising gay marriage, and appointing gay and female clergy.

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