THINKING ANGLICANS

Archbishop Justin reflects on the Primates' meeting Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a reflection on the meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury last week. Read it here.

Some other recent comments and reflections on the Primates meeting

Bishop Pierre Whalon writes for Huffington Post: Ain’t it awful ‘bout dem Anglicans?

Inclusive Church has published a Reflection from the Chair of Inclusive Church and a Joint statement from Inclusive Church, Modern Church and Progressive Christianity Network: Responses to the Anglican Primates’ Meeting.

Andrew Lightbown has written An Open Letter to the Primates.

Kelvin Holdworth has written that Outrage is not a mission strategy.

Integrity USA has published An Open Letter by its President, Bruce Garner.

Angus Ritchie ABC Religion and Ethics Scripture, Sin and Same-Sex Relationships after the Gathering of Anglican Primates

Bill Countryman The Archbishops in Secret

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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I wish Justin Welby had explained why a church cannot take “unilateral action” on something that is not a first order issue and that it is perfectly allowed to discern according to its own Canons. I also wish he had explained why the Primates thought they could impose “consequences” they have no legal power to impose. And I wish he had explained what happened to the ideas of a looser Communion and Living with Difference he talked about before the meeting. Changing Attitude Bath and Wells has grown as a direct result of this meeting, new members being straight people… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

In his attempt to whitewash last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury says nothing at all about the departure on Tuesday evening of the Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali.

Ntagali stomped off only after he attempted to expel The Episcopal Church from the meeting. This failed and Ntagali left.

So in point of fact, unity was not achieved, and all primates did not agree to walk together. Some may now be walking apart.

Susannah Clark
Guest

“We resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. And we reaffirmed our rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted adults. We need to act on those words.” Why do you keep saying “same-sex ATTRACTED” people? What about people who are not only ‘attracted’ but quite decently give their partners same-sex sexual intimacy? Surely, you need to resist not just the criminalisation of ‘being attracted’, but of having gay or lesbian sexual relationships? You need to spell that out. “We are put together as family by God, because we are all God’s children.”… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Justin Welby writes: “As leaders of the family of Anglican churches in a world so racked by violence and fear, we gathered in Canterbury with much to share and discuss – from climate change to religiously motivated violence. A significant part of the week was spent discussing how – or even if – we could remain together as the Anglican Communion in the light of changes made by our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church (the historic Anglican Communion church in the USA and some other countries) to their understanding of marriage.” He appears to have left out the… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sincere concern for Christians in danger throughout the world. But while church leaders are promoting religiously-motivated violence themselves, they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

I think the most bothering thing about the post meeting press conference was where Nigerian Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon basically said: “We deal with homosexuality in a particular way in our African culture. We don’t want you promoting it.”
How is it ok for Nigeria to deal with homosexuality in a particular way but not ok for America?

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Why do you keep saying “same-sex ATTRACTED” people? What about people who are not only ‘attracted’ but quite decently give their partners same-sex sexual intimacy? Surely, you need to resist not just the criminalisation of ‘being attracted’, but of having gay or lesbian sexual relationships? You need to spell that out.” The TEC responses quite rightly stresses Galatians 3:28 that their is neither male nor female. It’s hard to appreciate the true depth of this response because it means, for instance, that there must be female bishops not on equality grounds but because before God there is neither male nor… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Entirely agree, Susannah, about the “same-sex attracted people” language.

Apparently the primates can bring themselves to decriminalise people, but the primates can’t bring themselves to decriminalise the sexuality of those people.

Perish the thought that people might actually act on their love for each other!

It’s the same old hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner line. Which is cover for prejudice and homophobia.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Archbishop Welby’s reflection, I got as far as the line about the week being rooted in prayer and stopped reading. Save your pious spin for someone who cares. Our Primate, Archbishop Hiltz, is quoted in the Anglican j Journal as saying that the meeting was a “success”. This reminds me of something T.S.Eliot once said, “Success is relative. It is what we make of the mess we have made of things.” The failure in western churches to develop a meaningful position on GLBTQ issues is rooted in the failure to bridge theology with human rights. Until this work is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The article by Kelvin Holdworth is terrific, “Remember that God is love. God is not bonds of affection”. Brilliant!

Bill Countryman’s article is sagacious.

I’m working on having my feisty heart catch up with my more analytical brain. It hasn’t happened yet; but articles such as these do help.

Rev David
Guest
Rev David

Am I the only one to find it hard to see the unity and desire for reconciliation alluded to by ++Justin’s reflections (and the Primates Statement) in the recent statements by ++Michael Curry, ++Fransisco (Brazil) and ++Fred Hiltz?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“something that is not a first order issue” Something that is a first order issue is something that is a first order issue, and so it was deemed. One can’t consult a textbook and pull out the ‘correct’ answer when it involves conciliarity. If in council an issue is deemed critical to the common life of the assembled leaders; and if it was so deemed previously in council, and warning issued; and then unilateral action is taken, consequences follow. I doubt even +Curry thinks the LGBTQ cause is anything but first order! That’s why he is saying TEC will continue… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Jeremy – as I argued before the meeting, the conclusion was always going this way because of numbers in England, the Anglican communion and also in TEC. Technicalities don’t affect realpolitik much. TEC wasting three years hoping for re admission is a waste

Jim Naughton
Guest
Jim Naughton

What’s noteworthy to me is that the Primates requirement has become, in the archbishop’s recounting a request. That’s a significant difference.

Marshall Scott
Guest

I read Canon Ritchie’s article, and found myself wondering who the audience might be. Australian, certainly; and undecided, I might imagine. But, I found myself thinking, “There’s nothing new here.” I would agree with him that this is about differences in using Scripture. However, there is a “chicken and egg” argument to be had. We had differences in our use of Scripture for generations, and with them arguments about how to live in faith. It seems still that intimacy is a creek, and the shibboleth’s are held up on both sides. (And, I say intimacy to acknowledge that it’s not… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

All vacuous PR fluff, of course, but it’s fascinating how Welby’s scrupulously PC with his terminology (“LGBTI”) while ruthlessly excluding the very people he keeps issuing empty apologies to. Talk about a whited sepulchre.

June Butler
Guest

With regard to Justin Welby’s reflection, from my vantage point in TEC, the church which has been kicked to the margins of the AC, it’s impossible for me to view the “unity” that came from the primates gathering as “joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing”. From what I’ve heard and read, LGTB members of the Church of England feel the same as I do. And that’s not to mention LGTB persons from other countries where persecution and discrimination is much more severe, who look to Christians in the West for help and support. Does Justin himself believe what he says?… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“This is so deeply not about me,” he said. “This is about children who are going to sit down to watch this show and they are not going to see themselves represented.” -Will Smith commenting upon this years Oscars. ++Welby very obliquely recognises these sorts of issues but fails to grasp that the Communique should have directly addressed how LGBTI people might be turned away from Christianity by lack of representation. It’s not enough to justify the decision in terms of church unity, there has to be an explanation which makes sense to young LGBTI people: he gives none. Even… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Clearly, the vote of the C of E against the Covenant has been rendered irrelevant.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

And isn’t it shaming for the Church of England, Kate, that Will Smith – who is, when you get down to it, a moderately talented actor mostly famous for comedies of the lighter sort – has more wisdom, compassion and depth in what he says than the Archbishop of Canterbury can summon on a not unrelated topic?

“This is about children who are going to sit down to watch this show and they are not going to see themselves represented.”

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, the debate is done. The white-only Oscars. The straight-only Church of England.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Archbishop Welby: “blah, blah, pious blah blah blah.” Sorry, I can’t bother actually copying something he said when this is the real gist of his message.

Whatever. More of the same. These people really do imagine that we are willing to be blinded by the oh-so-lovely worship of imaginary unity. How wonderful for them that some of the Primates found their gathering to be a good event. A lot of us on the outside find it to be repulsive. The pious nonsense only makes the events appear all the worse.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Jim Naughton, I too found the ABC’s use of the word “asked” notable.

Not that this is a great concession on the ABC”s part. He knows he can’t parrot the “require” phrasing because he would be pilloried by English canon lawyers.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Jeremy/Jim – word games won’t get TEC anywhere. Curry said he didn’t expect the result. That shows the power of the GS (numbers). TEC can show up and talk technicalities – that’ll only result in more final decisions coming sooner than 3 years time. Let’s see if Canada takes no action that risks ‘consequences’. What I don’t get at all is why would anyone in TEC even want loose affiliation with the primates who are so clear that TEC is apostate? And why make any effort to get in welby’s good books. Go that route and TEC will end up… Read more »

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The phrase ‘same-sex attracted’ remains ‘same-sex attracted’ in the highly partisan terminology used only by conservative evangelicals and conversion therapy advocates. The use of the term is unfortunate because most LGBT people hear it pejoratively, as making a distinction between orientation and practice, and by implication, condemning their same-sex relationships. On the face of it, this was a Michael Ramsey moment which condemned the criminalization of LGBT Africans. But it remains unclear whether that had indeed been pledged by the primates, given the very specific phrase ‘same-sex attracted’ and the lack of any practical steps to be taken. Rather, the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

On a different point, since the Primates decided that the appropriate response to TEC’s support for gay marriage is only “consequences” and that it is important for the church to “continue to walk together” and for there to be further dialogue, can the Church of England, which is one of the signatories to the communiqué, legitimately claim that removing PTO’s from the Jeremy’s is lawful? In short, might the communiqué set a precedent that limits the range of justifiable sanctions against individual clerics?

Mr David
Guest
Mr David

Dear Susannah Clarke – you wish to know whether the Archbishop thinks gay sex is sin. The Wikipedai article on him says that he has believed all sex outside of marriage is wrong, and that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This appears to answer your question in the affirmative except he talks of what he did believe, not necessarily what he now believes. He doesn’t know or won’t say. Recently, in October, I was privileged to attend a Church of Scotland Sunday service in the Highlands. The minister announced that a sale was to be… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Il Papa has spoken.

TEC needs to say goodbye to Papa, and get on with being the adult children and take care of God’s work. If, as cseitz indicates, who sleeps with whom is now a “first-order” concern, then they no longer care for actually doing real work as the Body of Christ and can only be a hindrance. Let the AC go. The communion is dead, in any case. The con-evos killed it.

They care about sex, we care about justice, the twain cannae meet.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“he would be pilloried by English canon lawyers.”

Haven’t heard John Rees say anything against this gathering of Primates and the decisions they reached.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Responding to cseitz: Are you that unfamiliar with the law? If yes, then let me tell you something about the legal profession. Lawyers generally do not take public positions that embarrass their clients. I believe that John Rees has recently represented the Church of England. If that is so, then Rees is not likely to take up, publicly, a touchy subject for his own client. Professor Doe, however–an independent academic–has shown no such hesitation. Though perhaps Rees, or others in the CofE’s legal stable, have expressed their views privately. The ABC, in his statement, very carefully changed “requiring” to “ask.”… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Andrew, sadly, use of the phrase “same-sex attracted” and all that goes with it isn’t restricted to con-evos: not only is it used by open evangelicals; but it was the language of choice in the Pilling Report. That shows just how widespread the rejection of a lesbian, gay or bisexual identity is. It’s not just that LGB people are ordered to suppress their sexuality for life, which is appalling in and of itself; but they’re pathologized. They don’t have a sexual orientation, as all people do: no, they’re suffering from a “same-sex attraction.” And in Anglicanism, even in supposedly-liberal countries,… Read more »

Jim Naughton
Guest
Jim Naughton

S Cooper, The Primates were the ones who played word games, “requiring” what they have no authority to require. The overstatement made for a successful conclusion to their meeting, and it got the anti-marriage crowd the headlines they wanted. And because the meeting was not an open one, who can say whether they were actually told what at least some of them had to know, that they have no way of enforcing the demand in the communique. Now, meeting over, people look at the governing documents of the communion and make clear the requirement can actually only be spoken of… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘They care about sex, we care about justice, the twain cannae meet.’

That’s a nice, tidy world, Mark. I think reality will prove to be a little messier. If you didn’t care about sex, you wouldn’t be fighting this fight. And for the second half of his ministry John Stott challenged the entire evangelical world to think again about the importance of social justice – and many listened to him.

Can I also point out that many of the people in the worldwide Anglican Communion who are opposed to gay marriage are not ‘con-evos’?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Are you that unfamiliar with the law? If yes, then let me tell you something about the legal profession.”

Asking questions of people and then answering them yourself says a lot.

Grace and peace.

David Runcorn
Guest

I found Ritchie’s article very helpful. Both sides need challenging in the way they approach theology and the bible to make their case here. He is right to point out the selectiveness of traditional side in what issues they are willing to accept or not as ‘biblical’. And he is right to point out that the language of inclusion needs more a careful Biblical foundation than is often claimed. This doesn’t have to be a ‘new point’ to be valid does it? This has been the challenge all along.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

James, in all fairness to Pilling, the Report did on the whole try to differentiate between terminology, applying ‘unwanted same sex attraction’ to those who resist gay relationships on the grounds they are sinful, and in reference to organisations such as Exodus International which ceased conversion therapies because of the harm caused. Where you are right to point out that ‘same sex attracted’ has made its way into Anglican discourse as a synonym for LGBT people is evident when the term is used uncritically in the foreword to the Report and a couple of the recommendations. Worst of all is… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I agree that Ritchie’s produced a fine article, David, which puts over his POV superbly: but it just serves to reaffirm my belief that, while sexuality’s the presenting issue, the underlying problem is biblical authority, and authoritarian arguments in general. Criticism of authoritarianism has been markedly absent from this, yet it’s the heart of the issue. If liberalism is anything, it’s the rejection of arguments from authority, the rejection of “because I say so” as a justification. Liberalism has allowed itself to be shoved out of the debate, and affirming theology is being argued in authoritarian terms. I agree that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Asking questions of people and then answering them yourself says a lot.”

As does not replying to the substantial points made, I suppose.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Jeremy / Jim – well, tec can try and play technicalities. We are back to Primates Meetings with majority voting – they can and will respond. The ACC constitution? Perhaps ACNA presence in a primates meeting shows you how important the rules are when numbers are so strong ? The real question is this – why on earth do tec (and Canada and sec and others) even want to walk together with primates who will never accept some of their views? For what? Canada may well postpone what it was going to do post this primates meeting. I’ve suggested it… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

“The Club” will change, inevitably, when nearly all of the Global North reject “unison,” simply for the sake of large numbers, at the price of permanent separation from an Anglican Communion brother/sister with whom they generally agree.

In reality most of the Global North are being strong-armed, in the case of this recent sadness, into overlooking the anti-Christ messages – and in many cases the support of horrible laws – of so many nations of the Global South.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

S Cooper,
I think Presiding Bishop Michael Curry made an excellent case for staying. The Communion is not synonymous with the Primates. The Communion is a hugely complex web of relationships at all levels.
And if TEC staying in the AC means that no Primate will go home and start to dismantle those relationships in the Dioceses and local churches, the Communion will continue to thrive.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Did he, Erika? I just heard him saying that TEC will tolerate suspension for 3 years – he said it nicely with a few platitudes, but that’s what he said. Just like they tolerated bishop Robinson not being invited in 08. Now, what price will be extracted in the next 3 years from TEC for club membership?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

S Cooper,
I’m referring to this video where he talked about his view of what the Anglican Communion is.
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/statement-primates-meeting

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“I just heard him saying that TEC will tolerate suspension for 3 years.”

I did not hear that. To the contrary, the Church Times has reported this:

“Bishop Curry was asked directly whether he would contest these ‘consequences’ at the next meeting of the ACC in April. On Wednesday, he would say only: ‘The ACC is the only formal constitutional body of the Anglican Communion and it will decide what it will do. Our representatives from the Episcopal Church look forward to being there.'”

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Yes, Erika – that’s the video where, with some charisma, Curry basically says that he wants to stay in the club before he knows the cost. What we are yet to see is what the price of membership is. Some think technicalities and legalese can be deployed to maintain TEC positions both theologically and in the Anglican Communion. But why bother? Bishop Gene was sacrificed in 08 – TEC accepted his exclusion! Disgraceful. What is the price for a seat with the Primates in three years time? And, why does TEC want one anyway? Aren’t there more important priorities?? Curry… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘Canada may well postpone what it was going to do post this primates meeting. ‘

If our GS defeats the motion to amend the marriage canon, I’d be slow to blame the primates’ meeting. I’m not in the inner circle myself (far from it), but I have friends who have been involved with the process who have been saying for some time that the passing of the motion was far from certain. Note: ‘for some time’ means ‘long before the primates’ meeting’.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

While I withhold judgment on Curry for now — true, he’s not always been as forthright as I’d have liked, but he’s just taken his post, has unequivocally defended TEC’s position, and has produced some powerful words of affirmation for LGBT people — I agree with S Cooper that the lack of solidarity shown to Gene Robinson in Lambeth ’08 was a disgrace, as was the “moratorium” General Convention passed in ’06, a moratorium supported by liberal hero Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“Who pays the price?” is, absolutely, the crucial question.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

We’ll, ok – I don’t have as much faith in playing ACC politics. I suspect any ACC civil disobedience sours relations with welby and stricter rules get applied down the road. See rules changing already with acna presence. But why bother anyway? Just don’t get why TEC even would want to associate with some of the provinces given records, actions and repeated views. There are more important things than doing whatever for false institutional unity, aren’t there?

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Precisely my point, Tim:

Conservatives (ha!) have made an artificial line and claimed God made it.

We have no place among them. They have despised us, vilified us, lied about us and now, have won. TEC should leave behind such an incredibly corrupt system as has come of the so-called communion.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“It was our unanimous decision to walk together and to take responsibility for making that work.”

But according to Archbishop Foley Beach, a majority of the GAFCON primates did not vote in favor of the communique because they had left.

Who’s telling the truth?