A friendly chat between two archbishops?

On Sunday 14 November 2021 the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England issued the following statement, which is also available as a PDF document.

On Friday 12 November the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement to say that nine days earlier he had had an online meeting with the Archbishop of Ghana and other Ghanaian bishops. They were upset that he had previously expressed “grave concern” about the Anglican Church of Ghana’s strong support for the current anti-LGBTQI+ bill in the Ghanaian Parliament[1], without having contacted them first; he apologized.

We find this latest statement[2] by Archbishop Justin puzzling. It tells us very little about what was said and what the outcomes, if any, might be. He says they had a “courteous but clear and robust conversation”, but we are left to read between the lines to imagine what that consisted of.

We are told that “We agreed that all human beings are made in God’s image and are worthy of love, respect and dignity, and that the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and communities.” Well, that’s reassuring – though we doubt if it will be much comfort to the LGBTQI+ Ghanaians whose lives and existence are in peril.

Let’s be clear: this bill imposes draconian penalties, including long terms of imprisonment and forcible ‘conversion therapy’, on anyone who gives the slightest sign of being gay as well as making any pro-LGBT material illegal. What effect will this have on public opinion in Ghana, which is already strongly opposed to homosexuality? The proponents of the bill are ‘crying “perverts” and letting slip the dogs of hatred’ while the bishops and archbishop cheer them on. In a majority Christian country the church has a strong influence. The result will be even more violence against LGBTQI+ people, perhaps even lynching.

How is support for such a bill compatible with “protecting all vulnerable people and communities”? How does it “demonstrate that all human beings are made in God’s image and are worthy of love, respect and dignity”?

Archbishop Justin rightly says that the Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous churches and that he has no power to order the Church of Ghana to do anything. But as a senior Christian leader and a servant of Jesus Christ he surely has a duty to rebuke his fellow bishops when they go as badly astray as this. He should have told them they are failing to love and respect their gay brothers and sisters – and, even worse, they are supporting an evil and hateful bill.

Archbishop Justin is good at apologizing. He has apologized more than once to LGBT+ members of the Church of England, though he hasn’t turned his apologies into action. Now perhaps he should apologize to the suffering sexual minorities in Ghana – and show he means it by speaking out clearly and without equivocation.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-59062483

[2] https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/news/news-and-statements/archbishop-canterburys-statement-following-meeting-archbishop-bishops-and