Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams interviewed in The Times

Updated again Monday evening

The Times has published a major interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Because this interview and several related articles are all behind a paywall, it makes no sense to link to them directly here.

However, there are other reports. The most useful so far comes from Episcopal Café which has summarised the material in Rowan Williams: “No problem” with celibate gay bishops.

Other British media reports:

BBC Archbishop Rowan Williams backs gay, celibate bishops

Guardian Rowan Williams backs gay bishops [this headline is obviously inaccurate]

Press Association Williams backs celibate gay bishops

Independent Archbishop supports celibate gay bishops

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican Church has ‘no problem’ with gay bishops

Damian Thompson at the Telegraph Rowan Williams’s authority goes up in smoke as he replies ‘Pass’ to a question about future gay bishops

Updates

Ekklesia reports Archbishop of Canterbury fails to bridge gay row gap

Church Mouse has written about Rowan’s little communication problem.

…Mouse’s view is that Rowan has two possible reactions to this kind of question. The first is simply to stonewall. That would be Mouse’s advice. Simply respond, “the Church’s approach to this is well known and widely documented” then refuse to go further. This is rather boring for interviewers but doesn’t give them room to make up juicy headlines.

The other option is rather more high risk. That would be to say, “the Church’s line on this is well known and widely documented, but we all know that it is a dreadful fudge concocted to try to avoid total civil war in the Church. I hope to be able to move forward on that in due course.”

The benefit of this is that it avoids you sounding like you’re defending a pretty indefensible position, as the Church’s current line really is. It is inconsistent and illogical, but its what we’ve got. The second is that it puts Rowan on the front foot leading the debate. Of course, it is more high risk, as many within the Church would respond with their usual venom. However, the ultimate virtue of this position for Rowan Williams is that it is actually what he believes…

Update Monday

There is now an ENS report, ENGLAND: Archbishop says there’s ‘no problem’ with celibate gay bishops.

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Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Abp Rowan’s bizarre statement that gay bishops are “no problem” for him per se is given the lie by the fact that there is not one single gay bishop in England who feels able to be “out” about their sexuality. Evidently, in the fantasy world that increasingly seems to be that which C of E bishops inhabit, everything is morally hunky dory however patently false their statements may be. Another, more distressing line from Abp Rowan, is that reported on the BBC website today, that he has long been aware of “the wound of homosexuality” in the Church. It is… Read more »

Richard Falk
Guest
Richard Falk

When Christ had to take a stand for justice, it doesn’t seem to me he worried about playing politics. When will the ABofC realize that his post is about justice; it is NOT about politics as he appears to wrongly assume. Is he suggesting of Truth: “that’s not my job now”?

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

I like best the part where he answers “Pass.”

That just about epitomizes his time as ABC.

Perhaps in the afterlife he will be room-mates with Neville Chamberlain.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Guest
Davis Mac-Iyalla

The Anglican hypocrites known as Primates and Bishops from the Global South and their American/English masters will soon start to cry a river over this statement. God help her church.

rjb
Guest
rjb

Damian Thompson says: “Now, you may regard Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality as wrong, amounting to a declaration that it’s OK to be left-handed but not to write with your left hand, but it is at least clear. It’s inconceivable that Benedict XVI would produce the game-show reply “Pass” to a question about sexual morality.” Actually, doesn’t the Pope declare it to be “intrinsically disordered” to be – er – left-handed? Seems the Catholic position is not quite so straightforward after all. And while RW’s reply could be seen as frivolous, it might also be viewed as an example of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If you want a miter, throw away (the possibility of) your spouse.”

You can give THAT back to the Father-of-Lies, Rowan!” >:-(

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I am very struck by the Times’s own position. Their leader-writer is impatient with Dr. Williams and wants him to move more quickly toward full inclusion. Is this what we in the US call a “Cronkite moment”? (President Johnson, on learning that the respected CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite had said the Vietnam War was unwinnable, is supposed to have said “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the nation.”

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Funny how he believes in women bishops, divorced and re-married bishops and and bishops who indulge in sex which is contracepted.

All of which were anathema to Anglicanism at one time.

Rob+
Guest
Rob+

Davis, actually we on the side of the “Anglican Hypocrites” don’t mind this statement at all. We actually believe the cross is the sign that we are all “intrinsically disordered” in various ways. But forgiveness by Christ’s blood and grace by his Holy Spirit enables us to live godly, righteous and sober lives. Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God — in any role God calls them to — just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted, (as it is for all God’s… Read more »

Suem
Guest

Bizarre is the word!

I know he’d like to “pass” on the this particular issue – but really. Did he think he was on a game show? Mastermind or just The Weakest Link?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“To put it very simply, there’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop. It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there’s always a question about the personal life of the clergy.” – Archbishop Rowan Willaims (Guardian) – Like the moon landing, for the Church of England this is at least a mighty step forward – for the ABC to at least admit that ‘There’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop’. Would thast he had admitted this to the world at large before turning back… Read more »

bobinswpa
Guest
bobinswpa

So why is Jeffrey John not a bishop???

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. “Let the Bishop be once married.”

From the earliest time, when clergy could be married ..it was always understood that on the death of their spouse, they had to remain single.

Indeed convert clergy who are dispensed from celibacy have to promise never to re-marry if widowed.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Fr Ron: “Like the moon landing, for the Church of England this is at least a mighty step forward – for the ABC to at least admit that ‘There’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop'” I am afraid I disagree with you here. Rowan’s statement is simply false. He (or the institution of the C of E, which he seems to regard as much the same thing) evidently has a massive problem with gay people being bishops. Everyone can see this except him, I think. He has several gay bishops in the C of E – and… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

“Pass” in response to that particular question speaks volumes; it can be translated “I do not rule out that possibility.” It has enraged Damian Thompson and his fans, who think that Benedict XVI would have answered with a thundering, intransigent “Never!” I think that what Abp Rowan is saying is clear: “People have always been concerned about the sexual lives of their clergy, and the majority of Anglicans are ill at ease with even steady and faithful gay partnerships that involve sexual activity. I could push them to adopt a more liberal view, but that is not my job, and… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

RIW:

Unlike the Roman Catholic church, Anglican doctrine and canons are evolving things that react to increasing scientific knowledge in the world, part of our three-legged stool of reason, tradition, and scripture.

martin
Guest
martin

Comparisons are being drawn between +Rowan’s comments on homosexuality and those of +Vincent. The latter has been put on the spot a nunber of times over the past few weeks and has answered in ways with which many LGBT Catholics can comfortably live. VN has been asserting the ‘nuanced’ manner with which the RC Bishops of England & Wales have dealt with LGBT pastoral concerns. Perhaps RW might
take note, rather than characterise LGBT Christians or the issues as a ‘wound’. It’s more a creative possibility and challenge.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Did he think he was on a game show? Mastermind or just The Weakest Link?

Posted by: Suem on Saturday, 25 Septembr

The Weakest Link – for sure !!

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Given that the new bishop of Southwark was to have been named mid-August and that this has still not been done, is there a possibility that the Archbishop’s interview is damage control preceding an announcement of Jeffrey John’s appointment?

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘Standards’? what ‘Standards’ ?

Is he saying gay and lesbian relationships are sub-Standard then ? Better tread carefully. The wound is the way the Church has wounded us gays and still does.

Why do these Standards for ministers not affect his speech and its truthfulness ?

Time for the archbishop to see the Wizzard of Oz again. It might help us all.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. “Let the Bishop be once married.”

Robert, how can a bishop be a never-married celibate, especially as Scripture is specific on this issue…

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Bishop Rob writes -‘Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God — in any role God calls them to — just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted… I don’t suppose that I am the only person here who regards this view as insulting as the Pope’s definition of homosexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered’ and ‘tending towards a moral evil’. What you are saying is that gay men and lesbians, having been made by God in His own image, including their sexual and emotional feelings,… Read more »

Blair
Guest
Blair

I like Fr Mark’s and Spirit of Vatican II’s most recent comments. But can’t help thinking, why, other than ‘The Times’ needing to promote their interview, is this deemed to be news? All RW has done is to repeat the standard teaching of the C of E – it may be a mess, as Church Mouse says; gay Christians like me may disagree with it and fantasise that RW might one day take Church Mouse’s second option above – but as Archbishop he’s boxed in (especially on this) to repeating the current teaching. Does anybody remember, late in 2007, RW… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

If Anglican doctrine is evolving..how does the Covenant fit into that paradigm?

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

Given that the new bishop of Southwark was to have been named mid-August and that this has still not been done, is there a possibility that the Archbishop’s interview is damage control preceding an announcement of Jeffrey John’s appointment?¨ Lapinbizarre

That´s what I thought immediately, but then, pause/squint/remember, the ABC never does anything that makes sense to me (heck, I can hardly understand what he´s yakking about anytime unless he´s being snide).

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“”Pass” in response to that particular question speaks volumes; it can be translated “I do not rule out that possibility.” It has enraged Damian Thompson and his fans, who think that Benedict XVI would have answered with a thundering, intransigent “Never!” I think that what Abp Rowan is saying is clear: “People have always been concerned about the sexual lives of their clergy, and the majority of Anglicans are ill at ease with even steady and faithful gay partnerships that involve sexual activity. I could push them to adopt a more liberal view, but that is not my job, and… Read more »

Peter Owen
Admin

Sorry to spoil your conspiracy theory, Lapinbizarre, but the name of the new bishop of Southwark was not expected in mid-August. Announcements are typically made three or more months after the second CNC meeting, which for Southwark was on 5&6 July.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Rob+, I know I’ve asked you before, but have never seen an answer: just exactly in what Province of the Anglican Communion are you a priest?

JCF
Guest
JCF

[@RIW: “If Anglican doctrine is evolving..how does the Covenant fit into that paradigm?” Very well—in terms of “what not to do”. Y’see, Robert Ian, the AC also values *learning from its mistakes*: I practice I can commend to Rome!] “Bishop Rob writes -‘Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God — in any role God calls them to — just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted…” First of all: FIE on the dehumanizing meme “same-sex attracted”. An ideological creation of homophobes who want… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“”Interpretation belongs to the tradition… in which Dr Williams takes an historic role. He should affirm as a Christian leader and a theologian that discrimination against homosexuals is wrong. In the Church, as in the nation, let justice be done — and the heavens will not fall,” said the Times.” – art. in ‘Ekklesia’ – The Times article reveals a more eirenic stand in the argument for inclusion of gays in the Church of England’s ministry than that of the Telegraph correspondent, Damian Thompson. Thompson, who is a Roman Catholic, and has his own agenda to peddle, so one might… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

“From the earliest time, when clergy could be married ..it was always understood that on the death of their spouse, they had to remain single.”

RIW, I’m going to call you on that statement. Kindly name two to three neutral, scholarly works on the history of Christianity that support this statement.

Remember, it is better to marry than to “burn”…

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Someone, somewhere, in the British press, quoted yet another anonymous someone, during this summer’s J John to-do, as saying that the new appointment should be announced around mid-August. Inaccurate, obviously. The remainder is my imagination.

Rob+
Guest
Rob+

Richard, I certainly don’t desire to insult you. There is, however, something very insulting to all humanity in the message of the cross. We are all so sinful Jesus had to die for us so we could be given eternal life. It is a message of love — and it means our emotions, desires and behaviors aren’t all good. “What you are saying is.…I believe that his view is un-generous, un-loving and un-Christian.” If that is all traditional understanding of the Gospel had to offer it certainly would be un-loving, and for that matter, legalistic, dry and anything but “Good… Read more »

Rob+
Guest
Rob+

JCF — of course we are all the *same*. We are all sinners called to believe, repent, recieve the Holy Spirit and live lives of holiness according to God’s commands. The Church has always understood that means chastity (within marriage) and celibacy (without). Clearly this particular command is harder for some than others. But that doesn’t mean it is wrong. “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” – G. K. Chesterton

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

So if non practising homosexuals are ok for episcopal ordination, why didn’t Rowan stand by Dean John?This shows a complete lack of integrity as Rowan Williams’ theological reasoning.

The pope embraced him, but this man is more of a threat to Christianity than either Dawkins or Tatchell.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

” How about if the majority of Anglicans don’t give a rat’s ass about their clergy’s sex lives? “ The “wound” RW was talking about was specifically connected with “ministry” — and there are certainly Anglican faithful who complain about the sexual activity of their ministers (e. g. re. adultery or promiscuous homosexuality). “Do you think that’s all people think about when they see a priest? How bizarre” Now this imputation is itself bizarre. I merely point out the uncomfortable but realistic fact that clergy are generally expected in all denominations to be “godly” and that this is taken to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

There is nothing new here. As I recall Fred Hiltz seemed to think that the “Anglican policy” would make the ordination of any self affirming lesbian or gay person an impossibility – no matter how empty the bedroom. Rowan’s position leaves us in a worse position than before. He now represents a threat to my continued ministry and family. Words like “regrettable” and “wound” will come back to haunt him – as they haunt me! He has convinced himself that he has done all he can to protect gay people from harm – yet the truth is he gives comfort… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Rob+ I obviously haven’t experienced the ‘transforming power’ of your gospel. And I have no desire to so experience it. Your proof texts do nothing for me and neither will I be frightened into submission by the threats of death as the wages of sin, since I cannot and will not accept your definition of ‘sin’. It seems to me that what we have here is the usual dialogue of the deaf. You define your beliefs by what the Bible says and what you think the church teaches. I start from the experience of common humanity. I believe that sometimes… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“”So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. “Let the Bishop be once married.”

– Robert Ian Williams –

Robert, while your devotion to the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture (expressed elsewhere on this blog) has a lovely ring about it, It simply doesn’t hold water. Otherwise, you would have to insist that Roman Catholic bishops have been told by Saint Paul (in these words): “Let the Bishop be once married!”

Frankly, not many of them seem to have followed this scriptural injunction in your own Church!

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

The Southwark appointment is expected in October I think. The Queen is also a factor I believe… some things (bishops?) dont get announced when she is at Balmoral, Peter Owen can no doubt tell us why.The last three bishops of Southwark have been diocesans already… but I think that would limit it severely this time and I suspect one of the possibles may be a contender for Durham. It will be an interesting appointment though given what the diocese has asked for.

Peter Owen
Admin

Perry

I have been told that new English bishops can only pay homage to the Queen when she is in England. But this happens after the announcement and confirmation of the appointment. The new bishop of Ely was announced on 31 August, which was during the Queen’s summer holiday in Scotland. So I don’t think that her being at Balmoral will delay the Southwark announcement.

Doug
Guest
Doug

Damian Thompson says: “Now, you may regard Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality as wrong, amounting to a declaration that it’s OK to be left-handed but not to write with your left hand, but at least it’s clear.” The problem that the Roman Catholic Church has isn’t only the absurdity of its positions on issues such as homosexuality. Its real problem, in the wake of its never ending sex scandal, is its now complete loss of moral authority. The only debating point that Mr. Thompson really can make with any credibility is to point out that at least the RCC takes… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Lynn – I suggest reading P Brown – Body and Society. I don’t think we can or should follow early church standards on gender-sex-clergy-bishops – but it is VERY illuminating to see them in all their otherness.

David Wilson
Guest
David Wilson

Richard

You say you start from the experience of common humanity. But the common experience of man is that we are fallen. I dont think the bible reveals a vengeful god, but rather a god who is rich in mercy and slow to become angry. Re-inventing god because we feel perhaps uncomfortable doesnt change his character. I say this as someone with a confused sexuality – who god intervened twice as he tried to commit suicide

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The Church has always understood that means chastity (within marriage) and celibacy (without).” This is disingenuous HOOEY, Rob+, and you KNOW it! The standard you mention is NOT the problem. The problem is that you disallow those human beings that God made w/ a LGBT ***orientation*** from the possibility of HAVING “chastity (within marriage)”: that is, the marriage SUITABLE to their God-given orientation (to someone w/ whom they share *spousal love*). Don’t give me this “we’re all fallen sinners” excuse, for your OWN (sinful!) discrimination, based upon willfully self-serving and woefully BAD Bible interpretation. We see THROUGH your bigotry, and… Read more »

Rob+
Guest
Rob+

“You define your beliefs by what the Bible says and what you think the church teaches. I start from the experience of common humanity.” This is a very helpful statement Richard. It is needless to point out scriptures when we have two different starting points. So how are your decisions based on your experience of common humanity working for you? Do you have peace and contentment? A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn’t a gay man around who wouldn’t take the pill that would make him straight. The activists can say that is because of homophobia, but… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

“Mr. Thompson in his unending attacks on the Anglican Church is unwittingly implying that the RCC can no longer stand on its own moral authority. It needs an enemy to survive.”

One of the many great things about the papal visit was that this sort of sectarianism was nowhere in evidence. The royals, the archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury, David Cameron all surpassed themselves in projecting a wide vision of Christian faith, in which we strive together to build up the Kingdom. All sorts of negativity were discountenanced by this moment of grace, as Newman smiled down.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Rob,

Thanks, but most of us have outgrown fairy-tales.

However, Chesterton was right. Which is bad news for “traditionalists” – whether the Roman denomination or Protestant – as that tradition is what has been tried for more than a millenium and FAILED, FAILED, FAILED to improve humans or get us closer to God. Utterly FAILED. It’s *replaced* the Gospel. It’s a dead thing that rises to feed on living souls. Stake it. Cut its head off. Bury it with garlic in the mouth and a wild rose on the grave.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Okay, we also need to know about the bishop’s children – are they Christian, I mean *really* Christian. The term specified in Scripture (the Devil’s greatest trick against Christ) is “believers.” Does the bishop drink? I’m an alcoholic, so even one drink makes him a drunk if I’m to be unrelentingly, brutally, even scripturally judging of his suitability as a bishop. Recent convert? What’s recent – well, Episcopalians like you to have been around awhile (don’t believe it? look at the chart showing avg ages at the Lead and ask any young person who’s tried to get through discernment). I’m… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn’t a gay man around who wouldn’t take the pill that would make him straight.” Ah, Rob, that I can understand. In a society in which people like you won’t allow gay people to live normal lives it goes without saying that they’d rather be straight. But we’re no longer interested in the life-denying and love-denying theology you propose. This loveless rigidity is your problem not ours. As for me, I am bisexual and therefore do have a choice. I chose true love and am happily married to another woman, fully… Read more »