​Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury has told the Church of England General Synod in London that there was a need for “massive cultural change” within the Church so that people could flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops.

The Archbishop rejected accusations about compromise and being “wishy-washy” over issues such as women bishops in the Church of England and sexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Love, and the reconciliation it implied between differing groups, was “not comfortable and soft and wishy-washy”, he said.

“We have agreed that we will ordain women as bishops,” Archbishop Welby said. “At the same time we have agreed that while doing that we want all parts of the church to flourish.  If we are to challenge fear we have to find a cultural change in the life of the church, in the way our groups and parties work, sufficient to build love and trust.  That will mean different ways of working at every level of the church in practice in the way our meetings are structured, presented and lived out and in every form of appointment. It will, dare I say, mean a lot of careful training and development in our working methods because the challenge for all institutions today, and us above all, is not merely the making of policy but how we then make things happen.

“We have received a report with disagreement in it on sexuality, through the group led by Sir Joseph Pilling.  There is great fear among some, here and round the world,  that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word. And there is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that many see akin to racism. Both those fears are alive and well in this room today.

“We have to find a way forward that is one of holiness and obedience to the call of God and enables us to fulfil our purposes.  This cannot be done through fear. How we go forward matters deeply, as does where we arrive.”

The previous day, in his Synod Sermon, Archbishop Welby cautioned against a Christianity that was “inward-looking”, saying Christians must allow themselves to be overwhelmed by God so that they heard the call to care for all those who were lost and suffering.

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