Thinking Anglicans

the Pitt letters: Archbishop and bishops respond

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement in response to the release of the Pitt letters.

Friday 08 August 2008

In response to the recent coverage of the correspondence dated back to 2000, The Archbishop Canterbury has made the following statement:

In the light of recent reports based on private correspondence from eight years ago, I wish to make it plain that, as I have consistently said, I accept Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference as stating the position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on issues of sexual ethics and thus as providing the authoritative basis on which I as Archbishop speak on such questions.

That Resolution also recognises the need for continuing study and discussion on the matter. In the past, as a professional theologian, I have made some contributions to such study. But obviously, no individual’s speculations about this have any authority of themselves. Our Anglican Church has never exercised close control over what individual theologians may say. However, like any church, it has the right to declare what may be said in its name as official doctrine and to define the limits of legitimate practice. As Archbishop I understand my responsibility to be to the declared teaching of the church I serve, and thus to discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have changed.

The Bishop of Durham and 18 other bishops have written a letter to The Times which begins:

Sir, As bishops in the Church of England, we wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at what we regard as a gross misrepresentation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

35
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
35 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
22 Comment authors
Father Ron SmithMerseymikeMartin ReynoldsFr MarkBen W Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
JCF
Guest
JCF

“That Resolution also recognises the need for continuing study and discussion on the matter. In the past, as a professional theologian, I have made some contributions to such study . . . As Archbishop I understand my responsibility to be to the declared teaching of the church I serve, and thus to discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have changed.” So while theologians (among other Anglicans!) may study and discuss, yet their Archbishop tries to “discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

If a number of the bishops do not agree with the Archbishop’s proposal, as noted in the letter, at least two of them – as patrons of Changing Attitude – do not agree with their own letter, at least in private. How else can they reconcile their patronage of the charity with the views expressed in the letter: that Gene Robinson’s consecration was a ” ‘foot-in-the-door’ tactic of divisive innovation” and which dismisses “‘inclusion’ – that regular mantra of gay lobbyists”? After all, one of CA’s stated beliefs is that “prejudice against gay people in the church is as unacceptable… Read more »

Bill Carroll
Guest
Bill Carroll

The Anglican Communion has no position. You need to be a Church to have a position. Some churches of the Anglican Communion have one position. Others have another. One shouldn’t act as if the Covenant has already been adopted. Anglicans have also always been free to disregard Lambeth Resolutions, which are not binding doctrine. The Archbishop’s distinction is untenable and leads to loss of personal integrity.

Andrew Barr
Guest
Andrew Barr

Thank God for the quick response of the Bishops from such a broad spectrum of the C of E,for writing so clearly and factually to correct the ‘disclosures’ in the Times.My heart sank when I saw them, as it has every time that my former world of the media headlines every rumour about the end of the anglican communion. Journalists have the task of reporting stories, but the gleeful ‘doom’ emphasis this year and then, the baffling strategy of media exclusion from the Lambeth Conference, has combined to ensure cynicism and doubt about actual outcomes. The ‘Rowan letters’ would never… Read more »

pete hobson
Guest
pete hobson

But, Hugh of Lincoln, that assumes that viewing Gene Robinson’s consecration as a “divisive innovation” is ipso facto “prejudice against gay people in the church”. I realise this is the very equation many seek to make – but it is at least logically possible to oppose the manner of the innovation whilst also opposing all prejudice. It’s not being gay (or black or female) that is that opposed but being sexually active outside of marriage as traditionally understood – whatever one’s orientation, race or gender. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t agree with this sentiment – but can you not believe… Read more »

Rodney
Guest
Rodney

There is no such thing as the Anglican “Church” there is only a “Communion” of churches. As a Communion of autonomous churches, the Lambeth gathering has no authority to determine or to proclaim what is and what is not doctrine no matter how many primates (and Archbishops of Canterbury) say otherwise. Williams’s compartmentalized dichotomy between his public and personal roles reveals exactly the problem many of us have with the kind of global “church” he is so desperately trying to create. It’s not the kind of church I signed up for when I became an Anglican many years ago and… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

If we accept for a thought experiment moment that TEC and Canada and Scotland and others possibly are doing all global Anglicans a huge church life favor, by daring to test this empirically-based notion that queer folks are not innately disordered by virtue of their not being straight; then what have we to fear in the long run? If this new view – and it is very new compared to the ancient views which it disconfirms – turns out to be mistaken, we shall know and benefit from a full public test of that knowing. If correct, instead, then we… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

It is clear from this part of the Archbishop’s statement (above-mentioned) that his primary duty, as ABC, is his loyalty to the ratified Resolutions of the Church (per: 1.10 Lambeth 1998): Qte: “I accept Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference as stating the position of the world-wide anglican Communion on issues of sexual ethics AND THUS PROVIDING THE AUTHORITATIVE BASIS ON WHICH I, AS ARCHBISHOP, SPEAK ON SUCH QUESTIONS” Unquote. This is his unquestionable duty, as ABC, to uphold, in any Council of the Church, until such Resolution is either rescinded or overturned by a subsequent resolution of the… Read more »

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

JCF, Too clever by half. ++ Willaims expressed some thoughts on the matter for consideration before serving in the present position. Even then keeping before people that the same-sex relation can not be equated with marriage in light of its particular character. Why not recognize reality? The communion along with R Williams considered the various possible responses and this did not carry the day(e. g. Lambeth ‘98.1.10). That is not for nought! It just did not come out according to your predilections. Hugh: ++ Williams is clear enough. The church is not simply about inclusion, or it would not be… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest

What utter contempt for gay persons can be seen in the bishops’ letter – so much for a ‘listening process’ all our views and thoughts represent is ‘regular mantras’ and all we are is ‘lobbyists’. They have a dark heart.

You can see what ++Rowan has to put up with.

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

These men have lost all credibility. Their letters purpose is what ? It clarifies how unclear the C of E and the ‘Anglican Communion’ (insofar as it exists) are about theses matters. They seem to be saying, at best, # “We used tobe undecided –but now we’re not so sure!” “He used to be undecided but not he’s not so sure !” And this equals a teaching ? A policy ? Something–anything coherent ? Hello ? I find it very disappointing that even the normally sane and reliable, BS-free John Gladwin has, apparently put his name to this rubbish. It… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

So I have been basing my life on the Michael Harding Memorial Lecture for all these years —

only to be told now — that Rowan was merely ‘thinking aloud’.

Am I going to Hell — or is he ?

It turns out that he was a Not Very ‘professional theologian’ who refuses to take responsibility for his words and deeds.

Btw there is quite a spat going on on Fulcrum at the moment, on why Homophobia is Christian (Ebbsfleet thread).

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

I have just searched the Changing Attitude website, high and low, and can find no list of their Patrons.

Maybe wisely hidden away or withdraen given this fatuous letter ?

Robert Ian williams
Guest
Robert Ian williams

Rowan williams:

Our Anglican Church has never exercised close control over what individual theologians may say.

Tell that to the Puritans and theologians like Robert Cartwight.

(I haven’t included the Roman Catholics as they were never part of the Reformed Church of England.)

“Our Anglican church”…does he mean the Church of England or the Anglican Communion… I wish he would say…there is no Anglican Church.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

The statement is ridiculous. There is no such entity as THE ANGLICAN CHURCH! On several occasions he (and others) mention this imaginary body – and the apparatchiks in the Anglican Communion Office wince. Even if the present format of the Covenant were to go through it makes very heavy weather of saying that this is NOT the creation of such an ANGLICAN CHURCH. Churches, like mine here in Wales, are very concerned each time this ANGLICAN CHURCH appears. Partly because it make transparent what is heavily denied elsewhere and partly because it also makes clear what is driving Rowan’s theological… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

From the Bishops’ letter: “a difference between ‘thinking aloud’ as a theologian and the task of a bishop (let alone an Archbishop) to uphold the church’s teaching. He has regularly insisted, as he did in his closing address at Lambeth, that the church is right to have a basic ‘unwillingness to change what has been received in faith from scripture and tradition.” I don’t understand this kind of reasoning. To say one cannot build one’s theology on “some few texts” is one thing. Just a matter of stating facts; it becomes to narrow a reading while there are often different… Read more »

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

Faugh!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I thought the very same as Hugh, and wondered if a couple of the bishops had actually read the final letter?

John
Guest
John

Well, Receiving a letter of support from Wright must be like receiving the support of the school bully. I don’t agree with the official C of E line on hosexuality or Lambeth 1998 or any of the official stuff, including Covenants etc. But I don’t think RW’s position is intrinsically false. I read him as personally believing monogamous homosexuality is OK (his clarification is very careful and does not repudiate that position) but as also being committed to ‘catholic’ theologising. As overall ‘boss’, he more or less has to be. Ergo, he sticks with the official line publicly. On the… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Signing a letter implies being in total agreement with its content, even if drafted by someone else. Otherwise it is a misrepresentation of others’ views – what The Times is accused of.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Priddis (has he no self-respect?), Dow, Scott-Joynt .. The usual suspects – one or two of whom have been happy enough to misrepresent Rowan Williams when it suited their own ends. Here they go again. It is not the “gross misrepresentation of the Archbishop of Canterbury” (what “gross misrepresentation”?) that they protest. Rather they fear that more people within the Anglican Church, reading the letters, will sympathize with the Archbishop’s private view.

A letter as interesting for who has not signed it as who has.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“He has our full and unqualified support in his magnificent leadership.”

Why comment? Speaks for itself.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“It’s not being gay (or black or female) that is that opposed but being sexually active outside of marriage as traditionally understood – whatever one’s orientation, race or gender. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t agree with this sentiment – but can you not believe it’s possible to hold it without hypocrisy?”

You don’t see the utter hypocrisy of denying someone the ability to marry their partner of choice and then condemning them for “being sexually active outside of marriage” when they choose to live and love that partner anyway?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“People might come along and claim…that polygamy is one more option for the sexual relation…”

Umm…they already did that.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

For Treebeard: http://www.changingattitude.org.uk/aboutCA/patrons.asp “The patrons of Changing Attitude support our aims and objectives and are committed to a church which is fully inclusive.” Pete, the tone and content of the bishops’ letter seem to go against CA’s ethos, which is why I was surprised to find two patrons amongst the signatories, especially given the manner in which it speaks about a co-patron. John, the Vatican declared the infallibility of the doctrine of the Assumption of the BVM only in the last century. Many Anglo-Catholics will celebrate this feast next week. Some accept the theology, some are a little shaky on… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“It’s not being gay (or black or female) that is that opposed but being sexually active outside of marriage as traditionally understood – whatever one’s orientation, race or gender. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t agree with this sentiment – but can you not believe it’s possible to hold it without hypocrisy? – Posted by pete hobson” It’s either hypocrisy, or nonsense, Pete: your choice. [And what Pat O’Neill said at 3:27] ***** “Why not recognize reality? The communion along with R Williams considered the various possible responses and this did not carry the day(e. g. Lambeth ‘98.1.10). That is not… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

No, Pete, because it is essentially giving no option for gay people to ever have relationships. Something so stupid should simply be rejected on common sense grounds, irrespective of whether the Bible says it or not. It really is about time that sensible people recognised that the Bible is given far too much authority and should be read simply as a book inspired by the faith of its human authors. Actually, they already do realise it – so how about saying so openly?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Hugh of Lincoln. I shall be presiding at a Mass on Friday 15th August in honour of the BVM, and don’t have too much of a problem with her assumption into heaven. If it was good enough for the Prophet Elijah to be ‘taken up into heaven in a chariot’ on a whirlwind, I think it just might be OK for trhe mother of Christ to be given a similar Entry Visa. Incidentally, I do not thing the more mundane of our Dearly Departed pop straight up to heaven. I, like St. Paul, think that they might just be held… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

I don’t think talk of gayness being innately disordered is at all relevant to assessing R Williams’ stance. He has explained his stance ad nauseam and it seems to make sense to the vast majority of his fellow bishops at Lambeth. He to “discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have changed”. That does not mean that he personally would not like to see them change. But he cannot approve of jumping the gun in a potentially schismogenic fashion. Martin Reynolds, did you notice that when Rowan was asked in his post-Lambeth… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

Thanks so much Hugh of Lincoln (lovely name).
Much appreciated. I feel heartened by it –so many good types like Una, and Gene – to name but two.

I can’t imagine what came over John gladwin. I was shaken on seeing that he had –apparently –signed the wretched little epistle.

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

JCF,

It would be more accurate to say that in present circumstances the informal small group process was recognized to be more helpful. Specifically, to your point,the Reflections document REAFFIRMS ‘98.1.10.

What we got from the likes of J S Spong in ’98 was that the leaders from Africa are simply backward, now your line that it was all foisted on the bishops! (Your words are, “the bishops at Lambeth in ’98 were engineered by +++Carey to reach the conclusion they did …”). More of the same kind of blind patronizing nonsense!

Ben W

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

The bishops’ daft letter reads: “We do not, he said, simply welcome people into the church without asking questions.”

The more simple truth, with regard to gay people and the C of E currently, is: “We do not welcome people into the church.”

That is the real problem.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

No, I missed that Fr Joe, I will have to revisit it.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I trust that Changing Attitude have approached both John Packer and John Gladwin to ask if they really do agree with some of the stuff in this letter?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Re Bishops Packer and Gladwin;

Is not their willingness to subscribe to both the ‘Bishops’ Letter’ and at the same time to the theological stance of ‘Changing Attitudes’, just one more instance of what might be called, in the particular circumstance: ‘Situational Theology’?
One could hardly call it ‘Contextual Theology’.