by Jules Gomes, Church Militant:
The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury has come under severe criticism for apologizing for a historical massacre in India while citing a non-existent convention to excuse his absence from a parliamentary debate on abortion.
None of the 26 bishops who serve as voting members of the House of Lords were present during the debate on July 17 for the critical vote that resulted in the imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland.
Justin Welby has now defended the bishops’ absenteeism, citing convention.
“The bishops in England, specifically those who sit in the House of Lords, by convention do not comment on issues specific to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland,” a Lambeth Palace spokesperson told Church Militant, responding to a request for an explanation.
“This is part of an ongoing agreement with the Anglican Church of Ireland,” Owen Jones, correspondence manager to the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, added.
However, the Anglican Church of Ireland has denied any such existing agreement or convention.
“I can confirm that there is no such convention,” a spokesperson for the Church of Ireland insisted after an exchange of emails.
Dermot O’Callaghan, member of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod, also verified he had “not found anyone who knew of this protocol.”