Tuesday, 9 February 2010

General Synod - Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this afternoon. A press release is online, followed by the text of the speech.

Archbishop’s Presidential Address

In addition there is Word document of the speech linked from here.

The Archbishop delivering his address.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 3:22pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

This sentence from the ABC's address got me thinking:
"The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety"

What happens when the right thing to do has a potentially negative impact on fellow Christians around the world? By "negative" I don't mean a whining "Oh, they're letting in the gays. How dare they oppress us" but rather the potential (and sometimes actuality) of some to attack (verbally or even violently) Christians because of guilt by association. However, does the move for full equality of LGBT Christians in the West directly cause extremists to attack Christians, or is it used as an excuse to do something they would have done anyway? My guess is that it's more of the latter.

Nevertheless, what is the moral Christian response when doing the right thing can have such an impact whether directly or indirectly?

Posted by: Kevin Montgomery on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 4:33pm GMT

Are we lesbian & gay members and ministers alone in not threatening to wreck or leave if / when --it's usually when in our case -- when we don't get anything remotley like what our consciences indicate ?

Posted by: Rev Roberts on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 5:26pm GMT

An impressive and valuable address by ++Rowan. In particular his reminder that we must look at each other in our full human dimension, rather than demonise or reduce one another to a one-dimensional caricature, is very timely.

However, there are one or two points on which I think he needs to be challenged.

Firstly, his argument that we should not take actions that reduce the freedoms of others, even if by doing so we create a freedom for some who do not at present have it. The trouble with that view is that we will never take any action or decision because someone will always be adversely affected. It actually leads to paralysis and the maintenance of the staus quo; and to increasing injustice through its perpetuation of unjust situations. Now we can argue about what is just and unjust, but I don't think the ABC's arguments about maintaining everyone's freedom are credible (although we might laud the principle). And this rather colours one's attitude towards his commendation of the covenant as essentially a beneficent Good Thing: it may be so in the ABC's mind, but many of us fear that it will in practice be used in ways that will profoundly harm the Anglican Church.

His extension of the freedom argument to the Church's opposition to the Equality Law debate rings rather hollow. The CofE is the Established Church, the Queen is the Governor, the bishops sit in the legislature, the church instutution receives public money in various guises. Parliament has enacted legislation, which has received wide support from the electorate, to remove discriminatory behaviour in employment. To claim that the Established Church should receive exemption from the law to practise unjust discrimination because of religious freedom just doesn't cut it, and the ABC is on very weak ground here. This is the institution trying to preserve its privileges at the expense of injustice against others - in this case plainly LGBT people - who are not always best placed to counter it.

Lastly, the antipathy that the ABC scarcely conceals towards TEC leads him to overstate. Of course all of our actions have consequences, some unintended, some distressingly negative. But to blame TEC in the direct way he does for violence against Christians in Malaysia is taking things too far. Perhaps ++Rowan should also concede that militant Islam is on the increase and will look for any perceived provocation for antagonism towards Christians, the West generally and especially against the US. A more multi-dimensional view would be welcome, or the ABC is in danger of falling into the caricaturing he is warning us against.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 5:34pm GMT

On a quick first response, and from a TEC-centered point of view, I found this address very discouraging indeed.

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 5:38pm GMT

"Nevertheless, what is the moral Christian response when doing the right thing can have such an impact whether directly or indirectly?"

Well I'm certain of the consequences of saying and preaching the wrong thing about the LGBT community. Victims get victimized, beaten and sometimes killed, not to mention legislation aimed at ethnic cleansing.

If I'm going to worry about somebody taking a hit for miss-interpreting my actions thousands of miles from home, I might as well just stay at home in this snowstorm and do nothing except play stupid videos on You Tube.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 12:05am GMT

Charlotte, having heard the ABC's address to the General Synod of the Church of England, I feel that what he had to say was, in the context of the Church of England, perfectly reasonable. As you have said here, it may not have been the perfect speech from TEC's point of view, but then, that was not the angle from which he was looking when discussing the problems facing the Church of England at the present time.

What must be remembered is that, at General Synod the Archbishop of Canterbury is not speaking as 'Primus inter pares' but as the senior Primate of the Church of England. And, in passing, his remarks were certainly kinder to the ethos of TEC than those of the Archbishop of York's latest comments to the Press.

On the whole, I thought the ABC's Addrees to General Synod to be more eirenic than his recent words of wisdom on the subject of women and gays. Here he is seen to revert to his earlier acceptance of gays in the ministry of his own Church as clergy who are compassionate and diligent in their ministry. That is a great advance on the attack on gays made, in response to the archbsihop's address, by the Archbishop of Uganda; whose sick support of legislation in his own backyard against gays and their supporters defies any sort of rationality in the Gospel.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 12:06am GMT

Once again I am thinking about the USA Civil War - one of the arguments against abolition of slavery was that to free the slaves abrogated freedom of ownership and the principle of private property. These may seem fallacious arguments to us especially in the face of slavery, but they were held in serious and honest concern even by those who personally abhored slavery, like Lincoln himself. 'Freedoms' are not all equal, as even the Bible assures us. 'Go down Moses and set my people free' can't become 'Hold on Pharaoh, keep my property safe'.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 9:05am GMT

"The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety"

Let's see.

"If we pursue civil rights for Blacks in America, it may have a simply devasting effect on the freedom of upholders of apartheid in South Africa to proclaim their beliefs that Blacks and Coloreds are inferior human beings."

Hmmm.

Has anyone polled ordinary Malaysian Muslims to find out how many can name Gene Robinson or locate New Hampshire on a map or can tell a pollster what the Episcopal Church is?

Sorry folks. This doesn't fly.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 2:18pm GMT

"Nevertheless, what is the moral Christian response when doing the right thing can have such an impact whether directly or indirectly?"

I think we miss the mark when we focus on ourselves alone in these matters. This is a profound question and one that can only be approached with prayer. Perhaps there is no answer, but we do bear a responsibility to consider every member of the community of Christ.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 2:58pm GMT

I would find it difficult to take this address seriously or Mrs. Ashworth's motion seriously when there is no concern for the devout Anglicans whose very lives are threatened by their bishops in Uganda if this were not happening in the Church of England. Another instance of the CofE being on the wrong side of history. Well done!

Posted by: burl on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 7:44pm GMT

"The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety"

Which completely ignores the fact that much of this anti gay frothing is a carefully orchestrated and financed campaign from American fundagelicals.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 February 2010 at 8:58am GMT

""The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety" - Archbishop Rowan Williams -

This stastement might lead us to think about the viability of what theologians call 'Contextual Theology'. This would help us to take into account the diverse social and cultural milieu into which the Gospel is being ministered. Saint Paul, for instrance, was able to relate, at the Acropolis in Athens, the relatedness of their memorial to 'An Un-known God' as being in essence a tribute to the God and Father of our Lord. This was not a betrayal of the Christian God, it was a strategic transformation of the local cultural understanding into something that could be seen to translate into the wider culture of the Christian understanding of God.

The Church everywhere has to be able to relate to something of the local culture - in whatever way that culture is able to discern, within its own parameters, the love, mercy and goodness of God.

In North America, that love, mercy and goodness of God may be discerned in the local Anglican Churches' treatment of women and the LGBT community. While in Uganda and Nigeria, at the moment, their Church leaders seem to find God in the cultural proscriptions of the Levitical purity ethos. In those countries, Uganda and Nigeria, they are competing with the larger Muslim religion, which has similar ideas about God's requirements of ritual purity and penal retribution.

For both sets of ideology, the local churches have their own reasons for justifying their own theological outlook and praxis. That they are not compatible is due to the perceived differences in their understanding of the Scriptures and how that impacts on the needs of the local culture. In one way, one can see that they both have their reasons for acting as they do.

So, what can be done by the Anglican Communion to ensure that there is sufficient synchronicity in the Gospel message? Perhaps the only way is to emabark on a new Communion-wide hermeneutical process which will enable everyone to come to terms with what God is doing in their own home situation - as compared with what is happening elsewhere. Perhaps we may learn something from one another, that all situations are not the same, and that diversity - such as exists in the ordering of creation itself - will need to be celebrated.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 12 February 2010 at 10:23am GMT
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