Monday, 16 June 2008
further reports on the London church service
Earlier reports here and here.
Riazat Butt at the Guardian has Gay priest resigns after furore over church blessing.
The headline refers to the New Zealand priest, David Lord, about whom there is also this report from New Zealand on Stuff, NZ priest in gay marriage row gives up licence.
Concerning the legal situation in England, Riazat reports this:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Monday, 16 June 2008 at 7:19am BST
Dudley is the freeholder of St Bartholomew’s, making it virtually impossible for him to be ousted. But he could face procedures which would involve someone proving there had been an irrevocable pastoral breakdown or that Dudley had acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman of the Church of England.
Nigel Seed, a church lawyer, said there was no prohibition on having a service after a civil partnership, provided it was not contrary to church doctrine.
“If you do not purport it to be a service of blessing there is nothing to stop couples from having prayers, hymns or a service of prayer and dedication,” he said.
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
'it was not a wedding or a marriage but the blessing of a civil partnership'
'If you do not purport it to be a service of blessing...'
This did purport to be a service of blessing.
Brave? Loving? Forward looking? Inculturated?
I would like to be able to offer such services of blessing, (though I would do the liturgy very differently).
Do African priests bless polygamous marriages? Do they conduct polygamous weddings? Is there any moral and theological equivalence, and if so why isn't there any ecclesial / political equivalence?
Regardless of my personal views on the service that went on; one cannot escape the fact that Fr. Dudley went ahead with the blessing of a Civil Partnership with the full the knowledge that he would be breaking the laws of the Church.
In a time within the Anglican Communion when trust is at an all time low, this was the wrong time to decide to do such a thing; while I am sure Fr. Dudley had the best intentions he has only served to heighten the tension, mistrust and ill feeling that is all too rife across the Anglican Communion. Fr. Dudley should have considered the effect that this would have had on the communion as a whole.
The time has long since past for doctrinal and liturgicval witch-hunts in England !
Is the missa normative consonant with C of E doctrine ? -- widely used. And what about Benediction of the blessed Sacrament ? Expostion ? etc-- all widely practised by cofe bishops and other clergy.
Better live and let live asap !
What baffles me is the way i which both the "conservatives" and the secular media have been treating this event as though it were groundbreaking and new.
And I'm left somewhat curious as to which "side" in the debate has chosen to use this particular blessing ceremony as a wedge.
It quite frankly embarrassing that the officiant would try to pass this off as "just a blessing of a civil union." That is beyond duplicitousness and is simple mendacity.
And just which law would that be that Fr. Dudley broke? As has been mentioned elsewhere, the guidelines from the HoB are just that - guidelines. They are not mandatory. They say *should not*. They do not say *must not.*
I am uneasy about the form the service took but I cannot find a law that has been broken.
Mark Wh: "this was the wrong time to decide to do such a thing" - the problem is, if asked when the right time would be, your answer would be "never" wouldn't it?
Since civil partnerships were introduced, it has been obvious that the C of E urgently needed to introduce a blessing rite of some sort. If we can bless pets or houses, for goodness' sake, of course we should be blessing loving relationships between people. Not to do so would be a denial of pastoral need.
The foot-dragging and wishing-away of the whole issue by the C of E authorities over the last few years has been, in every way, a disaster. In the illiberal reaction to this service, we merely see it in its aspect of a pastoral disaster.
This statment is untrue. No church or law has been broken. In fact, there are no laws against blessing any more than love, itself. Blessing is an operationalisation of love & grace, surely.
'Regardless of my personal views on the service that went on; one cannot escape the fact that Fr. Dudley went ahead with the blessing of a Civil Partnership with the full the knowledge that he would be breaking the laws of the Church.
In a time within the Anglican Communion when trust is at an all time low, this was the wrong time to decide to do such a thing; while I am sure Fr. Dudley had the best intentions he has only served to heighten the tension, mistrust and ill feeling that is all too rife across the Anglican Communion. Fr. Dudley should have considered the effect that this would have had on the communion as a whole.'
Posted by: Mark Wharton on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 11:13am BST
Gay people are hardly going to sit around waiting for the so-called 'communion' to grow up and catch up. Any more than male-female couples are perpared to put their won lives on hold.
What planet is mark wharton on ?
Being 'outraged' is a choice
'What baffles me is the way i which both the "conservatives" and the secular media have been treating this event as though it were groundbreaking and new.
And I'm left somewhat curious as to which "side" in the debate has chosen to use this particular blessing ceremony as a wedge.'
Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 4:31pm BST
If they don't pass it off as 'groundbreaking and new', there is no story. Nothing to get outraged about. Nothing to cry "foul !" about ! They must stir the proverbial, hufffing and puffing.
Apparently normal life must stop for Gafcon. Or should that be Faf con ?
This noble vicar has shown up the hypocracy and double dealing of so many bishops. After all they recognised same sex realtionships some years ago in Some Issues in Human Sexualtiy....
... And the C of E has *incorporated the secular Law of England into its own Church Law, recognising civil partners of vicars for the purposes of pensions etc. Cf the CofE Pensions Board booklet on Clergy Pensions --civil partners are there with widows and widowers. So let all this risible talk of outrage and discipline cease forthwith !!
* Yes, Rowan and the bishops did this ! They have spoken ! It is the law of the land-- & the Chuirch. Not theological waffle and self-serving doublespeak.
Save your outrage for true outrages like Darfur, Tibet and the UK governement's policy of making assylum seekers destitute .....
Galations 3:11 "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith."
Galations 3:23-25 "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."
Recall also James 2:5-13 which includes "But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers... Mercy triumphs over judgment!" Which is consistent with Malachi 2:9 and Ezekiel 34:17-31
Recall also Jesus' teachings on mercy e.g. Matthew 5:7 or 9:13 "‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”" Recall too the parable of the unmerciful servant at Matthew 18:21-35 or the Seven Woes at Matthew 23 which culminates with this "For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”
Rob, do you not realise that there have been hundreds of similar events? Are you really that naive?
So many specious remarks.
"If we can bless pets or houses, for goodness' sake, of course we should be blessing loving relationships between people." Except houses, pets, fox hunts, etc., aren't condemned by the Bible to be sinful.
So there have been hundreds of such homosexual marriages that have been low key events. And now we are emboldened to have much fanfare with a small symphony and reproduce the wedding vows on the internet which shows them to be essentially taken word for word from the 1662 service, changed only to take into account the lack of a bride. And precedence makes it right??? Ummm, no.
"Since civil partnerships were introduced, it has been obvious that the C of E URGENTLY NEEDED to introduce a blessing rite of some sort." Divorce and remarriage (even say, 3 or 4 times over) has been legal for some time now, so we urgently need to bless it. Ummm, no.
And then we have dodgeyvicars questions:
Do African priests bless polygamous marriages? No.
Do they conduct polygamous weddings? No. They did petition Lambeth to allow people already in polygamous marriages to join the church without tossing their supernumerary wives to the streets. These people cannot hold office in the church nor can they take on any further wives.
Is there any moral and theological equivalence, and if so why isn't there any ecclesial / political equivalence? No. Polygamy while not condemned is never blessed. Homosexuality is always condemned.
Right now, in California we are celebrating with great joy, the first same sex marriages sanctioned by th eState.Our problem as clergy is a next generation problem, i.e. do we solemnize these marriages? As in England, many are caught up in legalism, citing the canons of the Church and offering gay people an endless waiting until the last opposition dies off. Nevermind the injustice of that and the failure of the Church to deal openly and honestly with this issue. Here in Los Angeles, we were treated to protesters holding up signs emblazoned with the name of Jesus, to justify their condemnation and attemted humiliation of gay people. As if these Christians had never read the New Testament, did not understand the Gospel, and found warmer comradeship with the Pharisees. No matter. Gay men and lesbians will not sit a the back of the Church bus, or accept second class staus among the Baptized. Today is a day of joy, and the beginning of many days of full human dignity for all of God's people. And to David and Peter, we pray God's richest blessing upon your love for each other.
Meanwhile, our churches in North America are threatened with subversion and ostracism for far less public and extravagant -- and fewer -- rites.
Do I smell the fragrance of hypocrisy coming from across the Atlantic?
I wonder if anyone ever noticed, or cared, that the NY Times has published same sex wedding notices for years?
I must say I have difficulties with the reactions to the St Bartholomew event. They are contradictory beyond Anglican Hypocrisy in general.
Expecting everyone to “play by the rules” when there aren’t any, when none are provided, indeed not agreed but deeply contested seems inconsistent, immature, and stupid.
To want things forbidden that are not illegal seems bad leadership, if not something worse.
Tyranny and repression.
Modern social prejudices aren’t “biblical”. The claim that they are doesn’t make them so.
It is as if those that complain want both created Reality to vanish *Don’t ask don’t tell* and at the same time to have a occasion to be righteously indignant.
Utter Silence and Penal “discipline” don’t go well together – especially not if you complain at the top of your voice.
Denial and Persecutions.
Why the furore now over this service? There are multiple reasons, among them this one:
Because GAFCON starts this week and Lambeth is just 5 weeks away, and those conservatives who are pushing the Communion to the brink of schism are doing for Changing Attitude something we have been trying to do for some years - show that the full inclusion of LGBT people isn't something that is only happening in North America. This story is being publicised by the conservatives to say, look, global south friends, it's happening in England too. You need to wake up to the danger we are in across the Communion, and take dramatic action this week in Jerusalem.
Of course it's a non-story in a way, services of blessing, thanksgiving, commitment, have been taking place quietly for years across the country, and openly and publicly in parishes like St Luke's Charlton.
But thanks to Anglican Mainstream (probabaly) for making sure this particular service was brought to world-wide attention. Yes, friends across the Communion (as the Presiding Bishop of the Epsicopal Church pointed out a few months ago) clergy in the CofE have been blessing lesbian and gay relationships for years.
"If we can bless pets or houses, for goodness' sake, of course we should be blessing loving relationships between people." Except houses, pets, fox hunts, etc., aren't condemned by the Bible to be sinful."
Nothing specious about this, other than your added insistence that loving same sex relationships are condemned by the Bible. It's about time you accepted that there is sufficient outstanding pro-gay theology around to make it at least possible to hold the view that these relationships are blessed by God.
You may disagree, but this rubbishing of those who don't is really getting childish and sounds increasingly uneducated.
I think there's a real lack of leadership here. It was obvious that Christians within the established Church would enter into Civil Partnerships and would want a religious service of prayer and dedication.
Everyone is so caught up in battles and political factions in the church that no-one stops to think about genuinely responding to pastoral and spiritual need.
Such needs are provided for for people who marry in the opposite sex so I don't see why Civil Partnerships should not be blessed in the same way.
If we are worried about some believers being upset by the precise from of words being used (I think that providing a diktat about which hymns, music and number of guests is silly and oppressive - no more than 10?, 30? 50? - what if both partners know a lot of people and have big families?) then the Church should devise a liturgy for the occasion.
Why not? Civil Partnership is a lawful union, often accompanied by the bringing up of children so why is the church so resistant to bless its own adherents lawful and permitted relationships in law?
My problem with these actions, including Gene Robinson's marriage, is not that they shouldn't happen but that the timing may not always be helpful. However you spin it, it looks as if the timing was deliberately aimed at provocation. Of course such blessings having been going on for a long time, of course there is lots of hypocrisy around, but the question remains as to what comes first - some notion of an inclusive communion with a place for genuinely different perspectives, or a simple triumph of one side over the other. There often seems to be no recognition that these are genuinely difficult issues and that often people hold particular views
for good reasons, not simply because they are 'intolerant conservatives' or 'anything goes liberals'. It seems to me that Rowan Williams is trying desperately hard to keep the communion together and though I may not always agree with his approaches I cannot help but admire his efforts to keep children on all sides from not just throwing their toys out of the pram but also trying to keep them in the pram. The preferable option would be for them all to grow up, but this is the church....
In the City of God, there are no second class citizens, there is no compulsion, and there is no hierarchy.
I almost forgot,
MAZEL TOV to the happy couple! Live long and prosper!
I agree with Colin Coward's comments, this service is only getting the attention it has because of the timing, and perhaps because it was a blessing of the relationship between two priests.
Nevertheless to be fair to robroy there is an argument here about the relationship between church policy (whether 'legal' or simply in the form of codes and expectations) and what people feel compelled to do or not. There's no point pretending that it's ok for same-sex partners to have their relationship blessed in church when it's frowned upon by the institutional church and when it's still a matter of finding a person and place willing to host such an event and when it's possible people will lose their livelihoods as a result. And it's also dangerous to engage in casuistry and claiming this isn't technically illegal or whatever, lest we end up being as Pharasaical as, say, the CANA or Sydney lawyers.
Once again, issues of gender and sexuality force the Church of England in particular to confront the fact of its Establishment. This has been a problem ever since the liberalisation of divorce law in the 1850s, where the Church has found itself at odds with the Parliament that regulates it. And this just points to the bigger issue with which we all grapple: what is the connection between the church, and the societies in which it exists? And how is that connection (or, as appropriate, resistance to it) regulated and made real?
"The preferable option would be for them all to grow up"
And what would that mean in practice?
If we always waited for consensus or agreement, progress would often never occur. It's highly likely that, absent court decisions and/or bold decisions and actions by determined individuals, the following would all still be in place:
Male only ordination
As I said earlier, progress often requires that individuals defy authority to make a point.
'My problem with these actions, including Gene Robinson's marriage, is not that they shouldn't happen but that the timing may not always be helpful. However you spin it, it looks as if the timing was deliberately aimed at provocation. Of course such blessings having been going on for a long time, of course there is lots of hypocrisy around, but the question remains as to what comes first - some notion of an inclusive communion with a place for genuinely different perspectives, or a simple triumph of one side over the other. There often seems to be no recognition that these are genuinely difficult issues and that often people hold particular views...'
Oh pleeease ! Do you really expect couples to consider the real politique of the Anglican Communion and of those 'people who hold particular views' ? Would YOU ? Would you delay getting married for obstruse technical reasons like this ? Do you ever stopconsider 'that often people hold particular views' favouring human relating and flourishing -- and ahve human needs & feelings ? STOP --now there's a word ! We are expected to stop so taht the striaght church can --can what ?
Some of us have been already waiting, stopping, Konsidering, for a life time ! Should we wait until we get to the retirment home ? Bishop Robinson is hardly a spring chicken himself you know ! Some of us have died waiting--do you care ?
Let's have a space for various perspectives--integrities !
Let's end the straight male hegemony & dominance of the rest of us --forthwith !
Or do you suggest that ALL weddings cease at once while we all wait and see ? !
Celibacy for ALL is it ?
Colin Coward is right. The furor over the service at St. Bart's (but not the service of blessing itself, which took place some weeks ago) was precisely timed to have maximum positive impact on the GAFCON meeting.
So GAFCON wishes to opt out of the Canterbury-centered Communion? Well, but of course they do -- just look at what goes on at St. Bart's, tut, tut, tut.
Once again the extremist faction of the Church demonstrates their mastery of the media. Anglican Mainstream activated "their" journalists in the Times and Telegraph, and now we are all obediently reading from their script. How tiresome. Can't someone explain to the Archbishop of Canterbury how the modern media work?
Perhaps this and similar manufactured "crises" and "emergencies" will at last enable the extremists to take control of "their" Church. But the lasting effect will be that more -- many more -- persons in the future will agree with "Nick, City, London, UK", whose post I quote from Ruth Gledhill's blog:
"Thank God (!) that the church has no authority any more in this country. They represent everything we should no longer wish to be associated with. Let the little old xenophobic ladies arrange the flowers and 'debate' the decline of society with each other . Leave intelligent debate to others."
Here you have the opinion of the rising generation, in the UK, the US, and anywhere else religious extremists have been allowed to become the public face of the Church. I am sorry -- very sorry -- that this has been allowed to happened. The extremists really do have to be stopped, and it is time that they were.
The real war is about whether we allow committed gay couples to put their relationship in a similar high position in their shared life - including that caring overflow which overflows onto us, others in the community - to what would happen if they were only straight, opposite-sexed.
Obviously, the continuing traditional answer still is: No, hang dog looks and creeping sheepishly about the Anglican sanctuary walls is still required. Required, otherwise we conservative believers might possibly come to doubt our certainties about awful you other lot are, or perhaps even worse, see ourselves rendered contextual by our own next generational offspring who get the high similarity even while we adamantly refuse to do so.
The twists and distortions through which a traditional reading is maintained - queer relationships, even of strongly ethical and committed sorts, are definitively sinful - will only grow more twisted and more distorted, the longer it refuses to take a long hard look at the evidence, accumulating more everyday in both common sense and empirically hypothesis tested ways - that such relationships embody and support human thriving for queer folks, pretty much as they at their best and better do the same for straight folks.
Reserve this form of central human thriving across the life cycle exclusively for straight folks, at your own ethical and spiritual peril, alas, dear conservative believers. You are pronouncing terrible judgments, not upon queer folks, but also upon yourselves. Is this good not to be received with thanksgiving, instead of being trashed and thrown away to preserve our mistaken beliefs? Can any good such as this exist, apart from God?
"Divorce and remarriage (even say, 3 or 4 times over) has been legal for some time now, so we urgently need to bless it. Ummm, no."
But we happily do it all the time, necessity or no. Indeed, some of those most adamant that Scripture forbids homosexuality are quite happy to divorce and remarry, despite this being equally proscribed by Scripture. It is this hypocrisy, and all the other former sins that conservatives seem quite happy to commit now that we say they aren't sins any longer, that shows they are not at all concerned about following Scripture when they benefit, but insist on strict adherence to Law for those whom they feel to be, what, not deserving of the same economy they enjoy?
"Do you really expect couples to consider the real politique of the Anglican Communion and of those 'people who hold particular views' ? Would YOU ? Would you delay getting married for obstruse technical reasons like this ?"
Yes. Yes, and I likely wouldn't get married at all even if I was straight. It's called bearing one another's burdens, and their failure to follow the Gospel doesn't give us the freedom to do likewise.
If groups like Changing Attitude had actually campaigned for real change and the very necessary split which needs to happen in the Church, then this could have all been sorted out years ago.
Some of us could see that a split was inevitable and think that progressives should have taken charge of managing it on their own terms and for their benefit. That should have included showing up Williams for the spineless wasteman and hypocrite he is.
How fitting that he will go down in history as the archbishop who tried to keep the church together, failed, and ended up being despised and regarded as an incompetent joke.
"My problem with these actions, including Gene Robinson's marriage, is not that they shouldn't happen but that the timing may not always be helpful."
Ah, yes, John A: if only civil unions had been available in New Hampshire prior to +Gene's consecration in 2003 . . . instead of becoming legal *just this year*.
Why does the VICTIM get blamed, for the delay of justice???
Whose blaming the victim. Gene Robinson can do what he likes as an individual, but as a bishop it striks me he does have some responsibility to choose his timing and to take into account whether his actions will harm or hurt the cause he is promoting, ie as a human being he takes his own decisions, and a bishop he dos have to consider the real politics of the church.
In the meantime I look forward to hearing Gene Robinson preach in Edinburgh in August.
The reason Gene Robinson gave for the timing of his Civil Partnership are very real fears for his life while in England over the Lambeth period.
Isn't it more shocking that he should be living in that kind of fear and that he will again be walking around with a bullet proof vest?
Do we really have our sense of priorities right?
And I would still like to know that you call for everyone to "grow up" should mean in practice.
Colin Coward: "Why the furore now over this service?"
Colin, you must be out of the loop if you didn't know that this was put out by gay activists and not 'Gafconites' (and I have spoken to two journalists who rightly won't reveal their sources but confirm that it wasn't evangelicals or traditionalists who publicised it). I presume the intention is to drive Gafcon out of the Anglican Communion.
"I presume the intention is to drive Gafcon out of the Anglican Communion."
You could assume that the purpose is to show gay people that some in the Anglican church love them. You could assume it is a celebration at a perceived "victory" over a Church that has traditionally oppressed them, you could even see it as triumphalism at the bringing to heel of something seen as an evil enemy that has long needed to be punished. You could see it as knocking a piece of the traditional power structure off its pedestal. You could see it as celebration of an act of rebellion against "the Man". There are numerous reasons, both good and bad, why "gay activists" would make a big deal out of this. Yet you choose to assume that these "gay activists" are trying to drive out of the Anglican Church that part of it with which you have sympathy. I don't know how many of these "gay activists" would identify as Anglican or would show the slightest interest in driving one group out of the Church as opposed to simply destroying the entire Church. So you assume what is, conceivably, the least likely motivation for these actions. Bit of a persecution complex, perhaps?
Ford Elms wrote: "Bit of a persecution complex, perhaps?"
Not really. I'd have to be a supporter of Gafcon then. I'm not.
John Anderson: “In the meantime I look forward to hearing Gene Robinson preach in Edinburgh in August.”
St Mary’s Glasgow?
John Anderson: “In the meantime I look forward to hearing Gene Robinson preach in Edinburgh in August.”
He is in Edinburgh in August but as part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace (St John's Episcopal Church, Princes Street).
WE WELCOME BISHOP GENE ROBINSON -BISHOP OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Is Bishop Gene Robinson the most controversial Christian in the world? Currently he is at the centre of the storm blowing through the word wide Anglican church. Bishop Gene will participate in two conversation events, a roundtable dialogue and a film event at the Filmhouse.
The rest of the programme looks pretty interesting as well. Participants include:
Arun Gandhi - Founder MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence,Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
Brendan Dick – Director of BT Scotland
Carter Phipps – Executive Editor of What is Enlightenment magazine
Charles Handy – Social philosopher and best-selling author
Iain McWhirter – Scotland’s foremost political commentator
Idris Tawfiq – Former Catholic Priest and convert to Islam – commentator and writer
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International
Kevin Lock – Native American, Sioux tradition and a Baha’i
Lord McCluskey - Former Solicitor-General for Scotland
Mairead Corrigan Maguire - Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
Martin Bell, the former BBC correspondent and the “accidental MP”
Oliver James – Bestselling author
Osama Saeed – Scottish Islamic Foundation
Rabbi Lionel Blue – Broadcaster and Author (The nation’s favourite clergyman .. BBC)
Rev. Richard Frazer – Christian Minister and advocate of the slow food movement
Richard Holloway - Chair of the Scottish Arts Council, broadcaster and author
Ruth Waterman - International violinist
Salil Shetty - Director of the UN Millennium Campaign
Trevor Royle - Historian and diplomatic correspondent of the Sunday Herald.
Valerie Hemingway - (Ernest Hemingway’s daughter) engaged in Barak Obama campaign
Ziauddin Sardar – Muslim intellectual, broadcaster, columnist and blogger
Well, there are more that believe the persecution myth than are part of GAFCON. Why assume what seems the more unlikely reason for this publicity?