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Same-sex spouse ban at Lambeth conference was a 'lose-lose' decision, says Justin Welby

by Cara Bentley

The Lambeth Conference is a meeting of global anglican bishops, held every ten years, to discuss the future of the denomination worldwide. 

Personal invitations are being sent to 'every eligible bishop and spouse' according to the website, a sentence which previously added 'excluding same sex spouses'. 

Despite the edit, the fact remains that bishops in civil parnterships will not have the company of their partners. 

Speaking to The Times about this, Archbishop Justin said: "over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I've invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider...getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It's a lose-lose situation.

"I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn't ask all the spouses."

Welby faced criticism over this from the preacher from the royal wedding and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, Michael Curry, who said last month: "I've got to be honest with you, I don't expect he will change [his mind].

"But I'm willing to say that this House [The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops] really would like it to be reconsidered if there is any way that it can be."

TEC's House of bishops voted 44-42 against passing a resolution calling on Bishop Michael Curry to ask Welby to change his mind.

Curry told them before the vote that he has had "one long conversation" with the archbishop and had exchanged letters with him.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev Paul Bayes said in February his wife would not attend in protest at the decision. 

In a separate interview with Channel 4 news on Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury also responded to Nigel Farage's call to put 'the fear of God into MPs' by saying: "we can criticise them, that's fine, but we shouldn't abuse them". 

He was also asked about the abuse cases surrounding John Smythe, to which he confirmed that he didn't know of any wrong doing before it came out publicly and will meet survivors as soon as possible. 

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