WATCH: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Says Clergy ‘Are Free to Ignore’ Church of England’s Rededication Guidance for Transgender Members

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tried to allay concerns about the Church of England’s rededication guidance for trans-identified members by saying in a recent interview that it’s not “a change of doctrine” and those opposed to it can “ignore it.”

Last year, the Church of England’s House of Bishops released a guidance for churches interested in marking a person’s “gender transition,” rejecting an earlier idea to create a baptism-style service.

In a lengthy interview with Premier’s Justin Brierley that was posted online Sunday, Welby was asked about the transgender baptism controversy.

Welby responded by explaining that the guidance is “not binding,” and noted that “people can take it or leave it. This is not an instruction and there is no change of doctrine.”

He added that the guidance shouldn’t be considered “a new baptism” since “you’re only baptized once,” he said, but a way for people to “affirm their identity in Christ.”

“In the same way as somebody being baptized finds faith in Christ in a new way, sometimes they will have an affirmation of their baptism, a reaffirmation of their baptismal vows, which will look quite like a baptism, will say the baptismal promises, but as a way of saying ‘this is who I am,’” said Welby.

Welby stressed yet again in his comments that the guidance is “not a rule. People are free to ignore it. And it’s not a change in doctrine in any way at all.”

Brierley then asked what it was like for Welby, as head of the Church of England and the global Anglican Communion, to be “in the midst of those competing views” on theological issues.

Welby replied that it was “difficult” and admitted that it does “keep me awake at night,” while noting that as a Church, “we’re not meant to be dis-united.”

“For that reason, whichever way you like to take it, the Reformation was a tragedy because it fractured the Church of Christ, as was the Great Schism in the 11th century,” continued Welby.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski