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Seeking to enshrine exclusion

Updated Saturday

Giles Fraser has written in today’s Church Times The Bishops are seeking to enshrine gay exclusion.

…This advice shows how much the Bishops have been straining every legal sinew to exclude openly gay bishops — even celibate ones — from their number. Do we really think that straight bishops have been chal­lenged to repent of whatever they might have got up to at university, as it were? Of course not. And this double standard is a clear symptom of the fact that what is really going on here is prejudice, pure and simple.

The other weasel construction that those who pick bishops have alighted on is that a bishop must be “a focus of unity”. No: first and fore­most, a bishop must be a man or woman of the gospel. Sometimes this means arguing for the right not to bring peace, but a sword.

To insist that bishops must be “a focus of unity” is a recipe for having bishops whose primary identity is that they are unobjectionable. In­deed, there is something almost heret­ical about this phrase; for it makes the quest for a quiet Church more of a priority than that of the preaching of the gospel.

The trouble is that, at the moment, a whole world of grammar is being invented with the express purpose of keeping gay people out of senior church positions. From the dreaded Anglican Covenant (whose purpose seems to be much the same) to this new advice, our Church is construct­ing its ground rules specifically to exclude homosexuals. And there is another phrase for that: institution­alised homophobia…

And the Guardian has published a series of articles this week, under the title How should gay bishops be chosen? which are all linked in this earlier post More discussion on appointing gay CofE bishops which has been regularly updated, but which has fallen down the page due to the number of other news stories since the start of the week.

The most recent (third) item was this one by Colin Coward: Homophobia has infected the Church of England. Earlier items were by Lesley Fellows and Peter Ould.

Saturday update

The Guardian series has now been completed with this fourth piece from Mark Oakley Gay or straight, allow clergy to reflect the rest of us.

…If the bishops were to follow their lawyers’ checklist in deciding on new colleagues, history will repeat itself as religious leaders make themselves both inhumane and hypocritical.

Why inhumane? Well, gay people have no choice as to their sexual orientation but, when recognised, they do as the rest do – try to find someone to love and grow old with. Although some are drawn to a celibate life, most feel that it is not good for them to be alone and they seek intimacy and a togetherness that, as married people know, is easier to make stable when celebrated and supported publicly and without fear. Priests and bishops are no different. To stop such people being ordained because a group doesn’t like the fact that some people will always be homosexual would be as unjust as not having made John Sentamu the Archbishop of York because there was a theological argument going round for a white man. If talk of unity is to have any authenticity there has to be diversity and bishops should be signs and enablers of both. Instead, to make gay Christians even more afraid to be honest about who they are, and their need to love and be loved by someone, is not only inhumane but shameful.

Why hypocritical? Putting aside the fact that the present bishops were not questioned on their own sexual pasts, it would be an extraordinary policy to pursue this checklist when so many bishops know and privately support gay clergy in partnerships as well as those who are single who have been partnered at some stage. It would be equally duplicitous to imply that such gay bishops would be an innovation. Truthfulness would be the innovation…

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ettuMartin ReynoldsChris. BcommentatorSpirit of Vatican II Recent comment authors
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evensongjunkie
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evensongjunkie

Absolutely bang-on. Wonderful writing. Giles needs to become the next ABC.

Father Ron Smith
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Good on you, Giles! I’m glad we have you at Saint Paul’s – as an advocate of the gospel inclusivity of ALL people in the Church. I guess you may never become the next Archbsihop of Canterbury, but hey, the age of miracles may not yet have departed! Greetings from Aotearoa/New Zealand!

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Well done. Peace. At what price. When there is “peace” in the church by excluding and silency the uncomfortable, then that is not peace. It is sociopaths gloating that they have their victims under control. According to the Judaic oral tradition, Sodom and Gomorrah were brought down because a mother and son were refused justice in the public square. King David warned of not harming the fatherless lest they rouse God and face God’s wrath. Christianity that is synonomous with misogyony, pedophilia, homophobia and repression is not “peaceful”. They claim there is peace, when really their peace is the silencing… Read more »

Keith KImber
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Keith KImber

This is both perceptive and prophetic. Woe to the church if the whole Gospel is not preached and lived to the full.
The scandal of exclusion games being played by some CofE hierarchs needs denouncing and disowning.
As these guys are state appointees, shouldn’t someone in government be having a quiet word with them about what such discrimination means? Are no legal sanctions applicable?

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

‘To stop such people being ordained because a group doesn’t like the fact that some people will always be homosexual would be as unjust as not having made John Sentamu the Archbishop of York because there was a theological argument going round for a white man’. – Mark Oakley.

Absolutely right. Some people don’t like black priests (or bishops) – Get over it.

Jean Mary Mayland
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Jean Mary Mayland

Thank you Giles. Your article is brave , brilliant and sadly true. How do we stop this sinful, mad,destructive leadership of our Archbishops?

God , she is weeping

Robert ian williams
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Robert ian williams

Surely you have to have gay marriage approved by the General Synod, before you can discuss gay partnered bishops? If that is not the case how could you deny the office to a heterosexual male in a long term non married relationship?

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Well, Canon Fraser has once again nailed pretty transparent double-talk. Once people begin to talk about homosexuality as a problem, or something nasty and unsafe, they are into a sticky tangle which inevitably results in documents of this kind. A creative response is required.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I agree with Robert.

commentator
Guest
commentator

Marriage is a legal status available to heterosexuals. A Civil Partnership is a legal status available to homosexuals. The sacrament of Matrimony is only available to heterosexuals. – But Mr. R.I. Williams is logical in his challenge. ONLY those partnered homosexuals who have entered into a Civil Partnership should be eligible for preferment. They have taken the option available to them of seeking to make their relationship public & permanent. I believe that this is the situation that applies in the Anglican Church in Canada.

Chris. B
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Chris. B

Surely not gay bishops / nor priests! Surely they whittled them out – before they got ordained! Honestly – if you rid the CofE of gay clergy it would implode today! Get real with this! The old queen mum – I hear would only employ gays! Loyal sympathetic … 100+ other adjectives… is it not about time the CofE realised the wealth it has and invested in it!!! It might also enfranchise all those gay bottoms on pews – before they get up and leave!

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

The Church can make marriage available, even if the state does not wish to register it.

ettu
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ettu

Too bad the politically expedient view is so short term and does not take into account the judgement of generations a thousand years in the future