The new Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to Ed Thornton of the Church Times [here]
However sceptical we might be about the desirability or even the possibility of truth and error living in peaceful co-existence, these are to an extent very reassuring words, but the C of E's Synod has ignored the pleas of its Archbishops before. Perhaps a new incumbent will be given a better hearing? If so, the time for a fair, permanent and truly 'inclusive' settlement is now, while there is still good will from all sides towards Archbishop Welby and the exercise of his new primatial ministry.
"....On Tuesday of last week, it was the turn of MPs to make their views known on church affairs. The Labour MP Diana Johnson introduced a Bill into the House of Commons that would amend the law to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate (News, 15 March). She accused the women-bishops working party, which was set up to resolve the deadlock on women bishops, of "lacking urgency".
Did Ms Johnson have a point? "Far from it. I appreciate what she's doing, but she's wrong. It's not showing a lack of urgency - there's a great deal of urgency. . . She obviously thinks that we're not going quickly enough; I think we're working extremely hard on it and as well as we can. We want to get this done."
Asked what sort of package he would like to see brought before the General Synod in July, Archbishop Welby refuses to prejudge the working group's outcome. If the Church of England were a political party, the situation would be more straightforward, "because we'd have passed the Measure by a majority and chucked out everyone who disagreed with us; nice and simple.
"It's just not Christian. It's not what we do. We're bound together by a common baptism through the work of the Holy Spirit, and I don't think we should have the liberty of saying to people: 'This is how it's going to be, and that's just too bad if you don't like it.'
"Now, in the end, we make decisions, but I think, on the whole, that the fact that the Church has existed for as long as it has shows that the way we do it tends to have some virtue."
Soon after moving into Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Welby appointed the Canon Director of Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, David Porter, to his personal staff (News, 22 February). An initial focus for Mr Porter - whom Archbishop Welby describes as "one of the world's major experts" in conflict resolution - has been to facilitate discussions between the different factions in the Synod.
Holding discussions behind closed doors has provided "safe spaces where people can say what they think and listen to each other, and it not all be observed", Archbishop Welby says. "You can't do everything with journalists listening."