Monday, 6 March 2006

RW interview: more press coverage

Further Update
The archbishop’s own website now also carries a transcript of the TV programme as transmitted.

Ruth Gledhill’s blog now carries the full transcript of this interview. Read Archbishop’s interview with Sir David Frost. This is the full, unedited version.

Telegraph coverage of yesterday’s television interview is comprehensive:
Archbishop warns gay issue may ‘rupture’ Church and Williams: Cuba camp is setting a dangerous precedent America both by Jonathan Petre and
Missed chance to speak out on Darfur’s bloody conflict speaks volumes by David Blair, Africa Correspondent

Guardian Stephen Bates Archbishop warns of split over gay bishops

The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop attacks Guantanamo

Ekklesia Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Guantanamo Bay camp includes useful back links to earlier Christian protests about this.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 March 2006 at 8:50am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

It comes to something when the Church is more concerned about a theological split over interpretation of Scripture, than a human tragedy of the scale of Dafur. Shame on us all. Can't we, for God's sake, look up from our internal squabbles and start working for the Kingdom?

Posted by: Peter Lear on Monday, 6 March 2006 at 9:56am GMT

David Frost's interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury is deeply disturbing. Not only the fact that he did not mention the terrible genocide taking place in Darfur, but his complete inability to see that more is involved in the Anglican Communion dispute over the place of gay and lesbian people in the church than simply the threat of schism, show that the Archbishop is becoming morally blind. The church in Nigeria is presently involved in supporting a bill that will disenfranchise all gay and lesbian people in that country, as well as their supporters, and the Archbishop talks about the interpretation of scripture! The Archbishop's silence on Darfur is simply one more symptom of a moral failure which seems troublingly pervasive.

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Monday, 6 March 2006 at 2:47pm GMT

You liberals are just something else. You are masters of distraction. Sorry Peter and Eric, that you can, with a straight face, minimise the danger of an ugly rupture, simply beats my imagination. Dafur is a true human trajedy of horrific proportions. But no less horrible is the moral decadence that the liberals have embraced that now threatens to bring down the house. There are many tragic situations in the world. The Archbishop doesn't have to mention all of them in just one interview. Concern for a tragic rupture should be enough worry for leader worth his salt

Posted by: Ralph on Monday, 6 March 2006 at 10:19pm GMT

Ralph, are you saying that genocide and issues with human sexuality are equal? Frankly, I dont care who sleeps with who, but I do care when a nation is being wiped off the map.... maybe thats just because Im a bleeding heart liberal.

Posted by: Isaac on Monday, 6 March 2006 at 11:03pm GMT

I listened to the interview (streamed on my computer) and found several things difficult. Some of this is highlighted by Ruth Gledhill's comments preceding the transcript.

I didn't find ++Rowan ambivalent or equivocal about his faith. I did recognize the academic and theologian. That is, I was clear that he spoke of faith in all its depth, without any expectation of independent, verifiable confirmation. It takes a great deal more courage, really, to believe without that. In contrast look at all those who want to somehow make scientific creation science or Intelligent Design. He has the courage to live in faith in a world that doesn't always make sense.

I was troubled by his comment about "the American determination to go it alone...." In the sense that the Diocese of New Hampshire took a step, confirmed by General Convention, America (ECUSA) chose independently to take this step. ECUSA has not wanted (even the moderate, accepting majority have not wanted) to "go it alone" in the sense of breaking all ties. While many have pointed to this action and spoken of "walking apart," it is they, the traditionalists, who have defined that agenda. We have always wanted relationships and conversations to continue, even though we would not agree.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 1:25am GMT

Only liberals are threatening to bring down the house?

I thought one thing that was becoming clear is that many liberals are committed to dialogue, tolerance and diversity. However, there seems to be an extreme element that would prefer to bring down the house (actually pack their house in a little bag and take it elsewhere), unless their and only their point of view is adopted.

One of the main reasons I became an Anglican is its history of diversity and being able to understand (even if they don't agree) the "other's" point of view. To have one group demand an "all or nothing" domination is counter to the ancestry of Anglicanism as I knew it.

And again, it's the bleeding heart liberals who are often amongst the first to bat for the "unfashionable" issues (until 2005) such as AIDS, interfaith dialogue, corruption or the environment. Further, we don't demand that everyone have the same agenda as us, nor do we issue correspondence instructing others to avoid "bleeding heart" issues because the core issue is sexual morality and the family (read "and stuff everything else").

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 2:07am GMT

Isaac, think of the POWER of human sexuality. The ugly consequences its abuse and misuse has brought humanity. Think of the diseases that has invaded and continues to invade humans beings because of the misuse sex. Think of the innocent lives that have been destroyed because of the abuse of sex. Think of the sea of broken hearts, the damaged homes, all because of the misuse of sex. But think also of its power to give life, to build family, to ensure the continuity of life on earth. Genocide (as horrific as it is) doesn't happen everyday, but the ugly consequences of the misuse and abuse of human sexuality claims lives in their millions everyday. Beleive me, Isaac, this is a very important matter. Or are you still shaking your head?

Posted by: Ralph on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 3:41am GMT

I think you miss the scale of the human tragedy of Dafur. It is a quantum leap away from schism, which will damage the church I love, but not bring it down. Our Lord was not at all fussed about keeping the Temple Worship just the way it was, rather he cared about people, suffering and injustice. So should we, and Archbishop has failed to speak on this.

Posted by: Peter Lear on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 6:55am GMT


We are not ignoring the issue over the misuse of sex. I, for one, am trying to encourage ALL adult human beings who desire sexual relations to enter into lifelong monogamous relationships. There are some people e.g. apostle Paul who do not seem to need sex, but the rest of us struggle on as best we can.

I think there is a bigger issue than the misuse of sex, and that is the misuse of power. Especially power within sexual relationships and those who seek to exercise power over sexual relationships.

To be honest, some of the homophobic elements' communication strategies would be classified as domestic abuse if it was happening in a home environment. For example: dismissing peoples' point of view out of hand, denying the worth of hurt feelings (e.g. genocide/bruises on your arms aren't that bad). Telling the other that "it's your fault if the marriage breaks down" and using the "children's welfare" as the basis to demand compliant submission. Isolating one's spouse from a support network, spreading insults about one's spouse so they find it hard to make a support network, ridiculing them in public. Repeatedly telling them why they are not good enough. Nitpicking. Threatening to withhold financial support or take away the family assets. Denying them input into the family culture. Treating them as non-citizens to be shunned, abused or used for lowly tasks.

And all of this behaviour, which happens in a domestic environment, then fractal ripples into how one deports oneself in public, sets up organisations, runs the military or government. On a large enough scale this fractal ripple turns into apartheid, genocide or warmongering.

A practical example from Sydney, there is a well-known church leader who during the December Sydney riots though they could "charm" peace by calling the rioters "unAustralian". That was a fractal ripple of earlier behaviour where they had got their church head office to abuse their own sibling for being "ungodly" because they had come out of the closet.

In both situations, they used their position of power to publicly insult both their sister and complete strangers. In neither situation were they prepared for the problem that they were confronting. Nor did they have a constructive strategy to prevent, let alone restore order, other than insults and excommunication.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 1:39pm GMT

[God bless the suffering people of Darfur]

"think of the POWER of human sexuality. The ugly consequences its abuse and misuse has brought humanity. Think of the diseases that has invaded and continues to invade humans beings because of the misuse sex. Think of the innocent lives that have been destroyed because of the abuse of sex. Think of the sea of broken hearts, the damaged homes, all because of the misuse of sex."

It *is* truly tragic, Ralph---and it happens as consequence of *human sin*: without respect to sexual orientation.

"But think also of its power to give life, to build family, to ensure the continuity of life on earth."

The blessings of *right relationship*, with God and with each other: also, without respect to sexual orientation.

No, same-sex relationships don't produce life, in a biological sense (Yet! Even that's a debateable point though). But in the *larger* sense, of "the power to give life"---especially, where same-sex couples are raising many of the children *unwanted* by their heterosexual bio-parents---then Yes: absolutely. And, these families are also sometimes faithful Anglicans!

The latter phenomenon is not something to "shake your head" over. It's something over which the Church should make the *cross of blessing*! :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 9:34pm GMT

Possibly too late to make a contribution on this theme. However, start with Peter. I don't think you understood me, Peter. The scale of human tragedy in Darfur I think I dimly understand. That the ABC didn't mention it when he was in Somalia is a cause for deep concern. But, Ralph. Oh dear! What can I say? If you must dismiss me as a liberal -- I'll accept the title -- do at last credit me with a little moral sense. I've been involved in conversations on sexuality for over two decades, during which the inability of people to see the harm that the church has done and continues to do to homosexual people is truly bewildering. But to accuse me, or those who believe as I do that it is high time that the church recognized and accepted the goodness of faithful, loving homosexual realtionships, of both moral decadence and blindness of the great evil of schism, is unwarranted. But I am not threatening to bring the house down. So far as I can tell it is those who are convinced of their own righteousness who are making this threat. I have still not heard one reasonable argument explaining why the relationships of gay and lesbian people are, in themselves, morally decadent. That there is much moral decadence of a sexual nature is unquestionable. But this applies to both heterosexual and homosexual people. I know homosexual couples who have lived lives of great faithfulness and fecundity for their entire lives. I know heterosexual people who have done the same. But I have also known both heterosexual and homosexual people who are carelessly promiscuous. I have never heard a good argument showing that a homosexual couple who honour and love each other are morally decadent, any more than a heterosexual couple who live in such a way are morally decadent. And all the shrill bigotry of an Akinola will not change my mind. What I feel is a great tragedy is that Rowan Williams has not applied to this issue the moral sutlety and sensitivity that we had come to expect from him. Also notable by its absence is the moral and intellectual leadership that we have some right to expect from a man of so much intelligence and knowledge.

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 at 3:27pm GMT


I've enjoyed your last few postings. I was listening to Australia's ABC radio yesterday and there has been a book recently published by the University of Melbourne called "The New Puritans".

The author was commenting on the radio about the global Anglican Communion. One of her comments is that there is an issue that there is still yet to be formed a robust alternative voice within the communion to the "new puritans", but that Rowan Williams is the closest thing so far. Personally, I don't think its Rowan's place to develop theology for the whole communion.

However, I don't think that a major factor causing a lack of robust alternatives is not that the "new puritans" are possessed with godly brilliance and the rest of us are incompetent sinners.

My observations is that the robust alternatives (and there will be more than one, because the alternative naturally appreciates diversity and tolerance) are being systematically suppressed, shunned, and slandered. As a consequence, any alternative that might develop is being ruthlessly analysed and the intellectual refutes developed to dismiss their new works (e.g. Spong's words of years ago are still quoted against him today - so the poor guy can not learn from his past mistakes and move forward - because the "puritans" want to make sure that we know that he crawled before he walked).

Similarly, if someone does get respect in the broader non-Anglican community, they will then seek to discredit their legitimacy by bringing up personal dirt (and they seem to have no statute of limitations on past mistakes when it comes to their "enemies").

As we saw in the recent environmental initiative, the "puritans" even go so far as to write to parishes telling them to "stay away" from an alternative because it does not have their mandate (and is thus not "biblically" correct).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 at 8:02pm GMT

I don't see what the horrible slaughters in Dafur, and state oppression of Christians in Somalia, has to do with the problems caused by ECUSA's gay-sex agenda ?

What does worry me, however, is the running battle that seems to be building at the moment:

The ABofC warns of the rupture coming due to ECUSA's actions, and the chair of the ACC promptly "apologises" to ECUSA for the ACC's decision to temporarily suspend it over the same issue. (On whose authority one might ask!)

The CofE's GS decides to look at a more concessionary arrangement for Anglicans who cannot accept women bishops and an MP, applauded by the "defeated" liberals, promptly puts forward legislation to enable a single clause measure.

The Primates request a body to review the position of Anglicans who feel excluded by liberalising Dioceses and Provinces, and when it is set up the [liberal] chairman says it will tackle no cases for almost a year ('til around the time of ECUSA's GC). And the first we hear of it responding to anything, it is finding reasons to reject giving a hearing to conservatives' claims, rather than being sympathetic and listening. Details here:

This could be a hot summer!

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 at 11:48pm GMT

Ralph: "the ugly consequences of the misuse and abuse of human sexuality claims lives in their millions everyday"

This is a farcical exaggeration. It is an untruth.

"the moral decadence that the liberals have embraced that now threatens to bring down the house"

The 'moral decadence' and 'human sexuality' in question here, and in the interview, is the practice of HOMOSEXUALITY - generally, by Christians, and by clergy.

So, in a discussion around this particular issue, you choose to apply your bizarrely exaggerated figure of millions of lives a day being lost due to 'misuse of sexuality'.

You are publically associating a clearly UNTRUE figure of global sex-induced DEATH with homosexual people.

It is a 'mistruth' about people.

This is a form of defamation. This is a very common tactic of 're-asserters' (famously demonstrated recently by Popoola). It is immoral.

'Morally decadent', even.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Thursday, 9 March 2006 at 1:05am GMT

'It comes to something when the Church is more concerned about a theological split over interpretation of Scripture, than a human tragedy of the scale of Dafur. Shame on us all. Can't we, for God's sake, look up from our internal squabbles and start working for the Kingdom?'

It seems not.

Darfur? Is that something to do with sex? No? Is it somewhere in Palestine, then? No? Sorry, not interested. Shame on us all indeed.

Posted by: Cyrus on Thursday, 9 March 2006 at 12:47pm GMT

Dear Cyrus, we shoud be concerned about many issues, not just the horrors in Dafur, destruction of Iraq and the authority of Scripture for faith and morality (a.k.a. the conflict over sexual morality). What about attacks on Christians in Pakistan and Indonesia; the inter-nicine fighting in Iraq; starvation in northern Kenya; Aids and STD pandemics in much of the world; marital breakdown in the West leading to struggling lone parents, associated depression and educational underachievement; the increase in anti-semitism, increasing autocrasy in Russia; re-armament in China etc etc ?

We can work on together on issues we agree on, without having to shut up about the ones we disagree on, unless they are really not important. And neither liberals nor conservatives (to use the rather simplistic labels) think that sexuality is unimportant, or they would have dropped the issue by now !

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 10 March 2006 at 7:50pm GMT


I just stopped back by after a long hiatus to check into what was going on at TA. I'm not surprised to find that all of the conservatives seem to have disappeared. From what I can tell there is a certain "lifespan" and then traditionalists realize there are better (and certainly more productive) things to do in life. While we come and go, the politically correct contingent (i.e., the JCs, Merseymikes, etc.) keep right on going, apparently finding the overall ambiance here to their liking. So, good luck with your endeavors, but don't be surprised if at some point in time you find yourself wondering why you bother to make the effort.


Posted by: steven on Monday, 13 March 2006 at 6:05pm GMT
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