The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says he is willing to meet with lesbian BBC host Sandi Toksvig, who criticized his recent declaration at the Lambeth Conference that the Anglican Communion still holds an official stance that homosexual sex is “incompatible with scripture.”

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, delivers his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral on April 17, 2022 in Canterbury, England. | Hollie Adams/Getty Images

“I would love to sit down over coffee talk with you,” Welby wrote in a letter to Toksvig, who hosts “QI”on the BBC.

Toksvig wrote an open letter to the archbishop saying if they were friends, she “could persuade you that you have made a horrible mistake.”

She wrote about “several credible death threats” she’s faced over her sexuality.

“Each and every one of those threats has come from an evangelical Christian. Inevitably they have wanted to kill me on God’s behalf because although he may be omnipotent apparently he’s also very busy,” Toksvig stated.

Welby replied that the “hatred and threats that you — and so many other LGBTQI+ people — have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are a sin.”

“I have absolutely no doubt about that and want you to be in no doubt of my position,” he clarified. “The Church of England agrees with this view and vigorously opposes conversion therapy.”

In her open letter, comedian and broadcaster Toksvig responded to Welby’s statement at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of 650 bishops that took place from July 26 through Aug. 8 in Canterbury, Kent. Leading up to the conference, there was a call to reaffirm a resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference to establish that “homosexual practices” are “incompatible with Scripture.”

The call was titled the Lambeth Call on Human Dignity. The original draft of the resolution shared before the conference called for “a reaffirmation of Lambeth I.10 that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman and requires deeper work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans.”

After pushback by progressive members of the Anglican Communion, the text of the call was amended to eliminate language on the man-woman definition of marriage and to state that views on marriage within the communion are divided. 

The Anglican Communion boasts nearly 100 million members worldwide. The Lambeth Conference, held once roughly every 10 years, is attended by bishops who represent autonomous member churches from 165 countries. This year’s conference took place after a gap of 14 years, instead of 10 years, due to differences over controversial issues and the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

In an address last Tuesday, Welby told Anglican bishops that “the validity of the (1998) resolution … is not in doubt.” He said that the call “states as a fact that the vast majority of Anglicans in the large majority of Provinces and Dioceses do not believe that a change in teaching is right.”

“Therefore, it is the case that the whole of Lambeth 1.10 1998 still exists. This Call does not in any way question the validity of that resolution,” he said. 

Toksvig, who is married to Debbie Toksvig, a psychotherapist, wrote: “It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that.”

She questioned what punishment would be if a Church of England church married a same-sex couple. 

“Apparently you feel you have balanced out this shocking statement of exclusion by saying you won’t punish churches who conduct same sex marriages,” she wrote. “What would this punishment be? Does the Church of England have a naughty step where loving priests sit before being allowed back at the bigot’s table?”

Anglican Communion-affiliated denominations in some countries, including the U.S., Scotland, Wales, Canada and Brazil have backed same-sex marriage to some degree.

In his reply to Toksvig, Welby acknowledged: “The Anglican Communion is a complicated global group of churches.”

“We can talk about this when we meet,” Welby wrote. “There are deep differences in many areas. This week we have been honest about the differences and nevertheless, accept each other.”

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