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Photo Credit: Canterbury Cathedral
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Photo Credit: Canterbury Cathedral
World News

Group of conservative bishops 'aggrieved' by appointment of new gay Dean of Canterbury

by Tola Mbakwe

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) has expressed disappointment that the new Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Dr David Monteith, is in a same-sex civil partnership. 

Rev Monteith was appointed on 10th October. He currently chairs the College of Deans for the Church of England and is the former Dean of Leicester. 

In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury praised his service in the Church of England thus far. 

"We will benefit greatly from David's experience and perspective, not least from his work in helping diverse faiths and cultural communities to live well together," he said.

"I share his vision of a Canterbury Cathedral that blesses and serves the people of Canterbury, the Church of England and the global Anglican Communion. I look forward to working with David and I join many in praying for him over the coming months."

Most Rev Justin Welby's approval of the appointment has been met with discontent from the GSFA, a group of conservative bishops who oppose same-sex relationships, and were vocal about their stance during the Lambeth Conference this summer.

The group said in a statement: "The announcement, which comes on the heels of the Lambeth Conference 2022, puts in question the seriousness with which the ABC [Archbishop of Canterbury] wants to pursue the unity of the Communion despite significant theological differences on the matter of marriage and sexuality between orthodox and revisionist components of the Communion.

"The announcement is particularly wounding to our Orthodox Provinces because Canterbury Cathedral has traditional significance as the birthplace of the world-wide Anglican Communion. It feels as if the present ABC has shut the door of the Cathedral to orthodox bishops, clergy and members of the Communion."

The GSFA also claimed that Archbishop Justin has not taken seriously an Anglican Communion resolution called Lambeth 1:10 which states that the Anglican Church holds that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. 

The topic gained a lot of attention during the Lambeth Conference, with Archbishop Justin acknowledging that the Church's teaching on sexuality remained the same, but there are plurality of views within the Communion. 

The group added: "It saddens us that in this recent appointment of the Deanery of Canterbury, the ABC shows yet again, that his oft-expressed assurance that Lambeth 1.10 remains 'the official teaching of the Church' is merely lip-service. 

"If it is the official teaching of the Church, then it ought to be followed through in the 'faith & order' of all Provinces. The appointment of a person in same-sex civil partnership to a senior clerical position clearly contravenes the spirit of Lambeth 1.10, which not only rejects 'homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture', but goes on to declare that the Lambeth Conference of 1998 'cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions'."

Commenting on his new appointment, Rev Monteith said: "I'm looking forward to working with Archbishop Justin, Bishop Rose, the Cathedral Chapter and her communities to ensure our worship inspires, our prayer undergirds, our outreach transforms us and others, and our witness reveals more of God's expansive Kingdom of love, mercy and peace.  I hope hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ and profound openness to the entire wider community will mark all we offer especially as we face this challenging time of rising costs and human hardship.

"My partner, David, and I have had a place in Whitstable for over 20 years and so we already know Kent well. We are both looking forward to getting to know further the varied communities of the county as well as getting to the seaside more often."

He will be installed as Dean of Canterbury at a service in Canterbury Cathedral on 17th December. 

Lambeth Palace has been contacted for a response.

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