Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the leading Presbyterian minister in Scotland spoke out against anti-gay laws during an airborne press conference after participating in an ecumenical pilgrimage in South Sudan. The pope repeated his stance that these laws are “unjust” and that parents should never reject their gay children. He also accused some of his critics of exploiting the death of Pope Benedict XVI to push their own ideology. The Archbishop of Canterbury expressed agreement with the pope’s words and confirmed that LGBTQ rights are currently on the agenda for the Church of England. He stated that he will quote the pope during discussions at the upcoming General Synod.

The Church of England recently allowed blessings for same-sex civil marriages but banned same-sex weddings in its churches, while the Vatican prohibits both gay marriage and blessings for same-sex unions. The issue of criminalization was previously addressed at two Lambeth Conferences of the Anglican Communion, where anti-gay laws are widespread and supported in some Africa countries and the Middle East.