The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has been accused of “wobbling” over the Government’s plans to redefine marriage.
He told gay journalist, Iain Dale, that he would be “open to discussions” on how gay marriage could work in a way that is acceptable to the Church.
Archbishop Welby also said the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill doesn’t introduce genuine equality.
That comment has led some people to wonder whether he favours civil partnerships for straight couples – an idea which is being floated in Parliament.
However, he did say the Government’s plans were “a radical change” to the meaning of marriage.
And he confirmed that the Church’s historic teaching “has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life”.
An editorial in today’s Daily Mail said: “Before his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby made his views on gay sex and marriage unmistakably plain, whether people agreed with them or not.
“He wrote: ‘Throughout the Bible it is clear that the right place for sex is only within a committed, heterosexual marriage.’
“Compare that forthright statement with his remarks on the subject this week.
“‘The problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally,’ he says, adding that many gay couples’ relationships are ‘an example to plenty of other people’.
“What he meant is anyone’s guess – though some think he was arguing (oddly, for a believer in holy matrimony) that heterosexual couples, too, should be given the right to form civil partnerships.”
The newspaper added: “After the incomprehensible burblings of Dr Rowan Williams (‘God draws amazement and silence out of human faces’), this paper hoped Mr Welby might offer clear and consistent moral guidance to a church and country in desperate need of it.
“What is it that happens to decent and intelligent Christians when they don the mantle of Canterbury?”