Welby: Church 'struggling' over same-sex marriages

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Archbishop Welby said he had to listen 'extremely carefully' to gay groups

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the struggle to do "what is right and just to all" over the issue of gay marriage within the Church of England.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told the Daily Telegraph that Christians in some parts of the world find the issue "almost impossible" to deal with.

But he accepted the Church had caused "great harm" to gay and lesbian groups.

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales last month but is not supported by the Church.

'Compassion and sorrow'

In the interview, Archbishop Welby said: "We are struggling with the reality that there are different groups around the place that the Church can do - or has done - great harm to.

"You look at some of the gay, lesbian, LGBT groups in this country and around the world - Africa included, actually - and their experience of abuse, hatred, all kinds of things.

"We must both respond to what we've done in the past and listen to those voices extremely carefully.

"Listen with love and compassion and sorrow. And do what is possible to be done, which is not always a huge amount."

He added: "At the same time, there are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue an almost impossible one to deal with.

"How do you hold those two things (in balance) and do what is right and just by all?"

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (C) visits the ECS All Saints church in Juba, South Sudan on January 30, 2014. Archbishop Welby visited four African countries earlier this year

The law prohibits the Church of England from performing same-sex weddings.

Archbishop Welby added that discussions were to take place shortly about how the Church should respond to the new legislation - and that he did not want to "pre-empt" them.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Welby said that accepting same-sex marriage could be "catastrophic" for Christians elsewhere, telling LBC Radio that hundreds of Christians in Africa had been killed by those who associate the religion with homosexuality.

In a live phone-in, he told of religious figures in South Sudan pleading with him not to change the Church's policy on same-sex marriage because it would mean they could no longer accept help from England.

Archbishop Welby, who made a five-day visit to Africa earlier this year, said: "What I said is that I have been in places where that has been the reason given for attacking people.

"Now, as I said then - and this is where there was misinterpretation - that doesn't mean that you don't do certain things.

"That would just be giving in to that kind of terror."

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