The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has warned that quoting the Bible won't settle arguments about same-sex marriage or assisted dying. He told the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Llandudno that attitudes depend on upbringing, education and which part of the Bible is emphasised.
We often see what we want to see. We often use Scripture to reinforce viewpoints that we have already arrived at in other ways and for other reasons. Some people have changed their minds for example on women’s ministry and same-sex relationships when they have experienced the ministry of a woman priest in the one case, or discovered their own son or daughter to be gay in the other.
Holy Scripture itself is far more nuanced, subtle and complex than we often realise..... We cannot just quote Biblical texts on different subject matters and think that that settles an issue.
– Archbishop Barry Morgan
The Governing Body includes the six Welsh bishops as well as representatives of the clergy and of church-goers. The Archbishop reminded them that the Church could change its mind. Today it disagreed with the state's view on same-sex marriage, in the past the disagreement had been about divorce.
The State allowed the possibility of divorce and re-marriage for a long time before we did as a Church. Not only do we now bless such unions, we actually re-marry divorced people in our churches. In the past, if a cleric divorced and re-married, that person could no longer continue in the ordained ministry in Wales, whereas now that is no longer a bar to continuing in ministry. So our views have evolved and changed on a subject which Jesus pronounced very clearly. He had nothing to say about same-sex relationships.
– Archbishop Barry Morgan
Dr Morgan said peoples’ lives would be affected by the Church’s response and warned of the danger of the Church being seen as homophobic. However, he urged clergy keen to redress the balance and publicly bless same-sex marriages to be patient.
Will we, as a Church, eventually adopt the same approach as far as same-sex relationships are concerned, as we have done about re-marriage after divorce, or is gay marriage in a different category from the re-marriage of divorced people? Whatever our viewpoints, I hope that our discussions can be charitable.
Much as some people may want [blessings of same-sex marriages], the rule is the same as was the case over the re-marriage of divorced people – we need to wait for the Church, as a whole, to decide the matter – and we are beginning that process at this Governing Body.
The Archbishop of Wales will be a guest of honour this year at a Christmas carol service organised by the South Wales Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM).
Dr Barry Morgan said he was 'delighted' to support the fundraiser, adding: "Christmas is a time when we remember that God made all people in his own image and loves us all.
"Christ was born in a stable to parents who were refugees and he spent his life with those on the fringes of society or who were victimised because of what they were, and challenging those in authority. I think this is still a relevant message for today.”
As well as carols and readings, the service will include performances from the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus and women’s choir The Songbirds.
Janet Jeffries, spokesperson for LGCM, said: “We are very honoured that the Archbishop has agreed to attend our Christmas carols at what must be a very busy time of year for him.
"We very much appreciate the support he has shown to the lesbian and gay community, both at this event and by opening the Cardiff Mardi Gras earlier this year.”
In his Christmas message the First Minister, Carwyn Jones has described 2012 as being a "remarkable and memorable" year.
The First Minister focuses on the sporting success of the nation saying "it was a moment of great pride when I was able to formally present the squad with the Six Nations trophy in front of the Senedd."
He also goes on to pay tribute to the Welsh Olympic and Paralympic athletes who as part of team GB secured 65 medals .
The First Minister says "our great year of sport continued with the Olympics and Paralympics. Our Welsh competitors were inspirational and their successes lifted the entire nation.
On a more somber note Carwyn Jones pays tribute to the community of Machynlleth in the wake of the disappearnace of 5 year-old April Jones saying "this sense of solidarity in adversity is part of being Welsh, something perhaps we take for granted, but something which we will forever cherish."
His message also gives thanks to our Armed forces:
“This is also a time to remember those in the armed forces, many serving overseas. They serve to defend us and that is why we have introduced a package of support for our Armed Forces community to show we appreciate what they do.