Wednesday, 29 September 2010

more views of the Times interview

Updated Wednesday evening

Two American views:

BabyBlueOnline has reproduced a significant extract from the recent interview in The Times , linked it to remarks made during the Lambeth Conference in 2008, and added further commentary. Read all this at Rowan Williams tells The London Times: “It’s a question about a particular choice of life.”

… in this interview from The Times he articulates that he is not a political activist, he is the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is resisting the politicization of his office on this matter, instead taking the position that it is a matter of theology, not purely a matter of rights. He does not fall for the tactic of aligning women’s ordination with the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals since he states quite clearly, “the question about gay people is not about their dignity or the respect they deserve as gay people, it’s a question about a particular choice of life, a partnership, and what the Church has to say about that.” He does not agree that homosexuality is like another gender or race (as in the case of suffrage and civil rights), but that we all have choices about our behavior and as far as the church is concerned at this point, those choices have consequences in the matters of ordination and marriage…

Walking with Integrity has Integrity Leader Challenges Archbishop: “Enough, Double Talk”

…Maybe the Archbishop doesn’t actually think that gay (and lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people deserve respect, or that God really loves them. Or maybe, against mountains of scientific evidence, he thinks that people choose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The most common way of making sense of the Archbishop’s argument, at least among the people who pay attention to Integrity, reflects rather badly on him as a moral leader. Perhaps he really has nothing in particular against gay (or lesbian, bisexual or transgender) people, but he simply doesn’t think that their freedom to live in loving, intimate, and committed relationships is as important as keeping the Anglican Communion together. Keeping the party going with its current guest list is the important thing, even if it means that some people need to be blocked by bouncers at the door…

And now more views from Changing Attitude in Gay bishops still don’t exist in the public domain (except in the USA)

“Gay bishops are all right by me, says Archbishop” was the front page headline in The Times on Saturday. More accurate but far less enticing might have been the line proposed in a comment on Thinking Anglicans - “Single, celibate, preferably virgin and never-once-promoted-gay-equality bishops are all right by me.”

…If there is no problem with a celibate gay person being a bishop, why are none of the 3 gay Primates in the Anglican Communion able to be open about their sexuality and why are none of the 10 to 13 gay bishops in the Church of England able to be publicly open? Some are married, some or single and celibate, some are not, all are closeted. The recently published survey estimated that 1.5% of the UK are gay or bisexual. Eight percent of Anglican Primates are gay and 10% of Church of England Bishops…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 8:22am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Since getting involved with a secular disaster relief organization a few years ago, I have lost nearly all interest in the church's structure beyond my diocese. I see nothing worthwhile in Anglican communion structures. These committees and offices do nothing to help people in genuine need, that can't be done more effectively by other groups. I certainly don't gain any spiritual sustenance to continue in my following Jesus. Listening to all the hot air just gets me irritated and depressed, and convinces me that bureaucracy has nothing to do with the Gospel. These people don't want me or any gay people, and that's fine. I will continue to follow Jesus in my local church and feed the hungry, visit the sick, and shelter the homeless without them--and use my money that way, thank you.

Posted by: Mary O'Shaughnessy on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 12:11pm BST

Abp Williams staked out his position long ago and has explained it clearly many times. It is one designed to infuriate both sides on the issue, but it is also one that is designed to keep the conversation open between both sides. "Perhaps he really has nothing in particular against gay (or lesbian, bisexual or transgender) people, but he simply doesn’t think that their freedom to live in loving, intimate, and committed relationships is as important as keeping the Anglican Communion together." Lambeth 1998 forbids him to stress that freedom irrespective of what the wider church thinks, and he said from the start of his time as archbishop that he would abide by this, even though he was publically critical of Lambeth 1998 at the time. His refusal to budge from his position despite heavy pressure from both sides has kept him at the dead center of the debate, a sort of living monument to the impasse, and in a way this has made him an instrument of unity as the figure both sides love to rail against.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 2:58pm BST

I see babyblue believes that Jeffrey John was the preferred name of the Crown Nominations Commission.Evidence?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 3:37pm BST

Rowan is a child of the Oxford Movement.
First it exalted the status of bishops way above anything before. Call them ‘My Lord’ and put them on a high pedestal, lower only than the one reserved for archbishops. I was brought up like this. But then what happens if you become an archbishop yourself? I was never given the chance to find out, but I can quite see how it leaves Rowan thinking he should suppress his merely human (merely professor of theology) opinions and play the role. His job is not to care for the well-being of gays and lesbians, or even conservative evangelicals, but to care for the unity of the Church.
Secondly, Newman really struggled with doctrinal development but in the end the Oxford Movement, like evangelical contemporaries, accentuated the principle that Christian truth remains unchanged. My New Dictionary of Christian Theology describes ‘dogma’ thus:
“After a chequered history, by the end of the nineteenth century the word came to bear the precise meaning of
(1) a divinely revealed truth
(2) proclaimed as such by solemn church teaching
(3) hence binding now and forever on the faithful.”
As I see it these are the concerns which have driven him to support the power bid which is really the brainchild of some conservative evangelicals.

Posted by: Jonathan Clatworthy on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 5:07pm BST

'but it is also one that is designed to keep the conversation open between both sides.'

Conversation ? -- What conversation ?

I am aware of none.

For myself I am long past 'conversation'.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 8:43pm BST

"If there is no problem with a celibate gay person being a bishop, why are none of the 3 gay Primates in the Anglican Communion able to be open about their sexuality"

Uff da! (Trans. roughly "Say it like it is!")

****

Aw, you won BabyBlue's stamp of approval: happy now, Rowan?

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:47am BST

Spirit of Vatican II said, "Lambeth 1998 forbids him to stress that freedom irrespective of what the wider church thinks."

Really? Does the Lambeth Conference dictate what the Archbishop of Canterbury can or cannot do or say?

News to me.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 4:10am BST

"(1) a divinely revealed truth
(2) proclaimed as such by solemn church teaching
(3) hence binding now and forever on the faithful.”

I'm sure RW agrees with this account of dogma, as indeed Newman did, but he certainly is open to development and change, as is seen in his attitude to the evaluation of gay relationships (not that these come under the precise rubric of dogma).

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 5:34am BST

Babyblue is okay with Williams' statement?

Can the Devil be far behind in publicly expressing his support?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 5:45am BST

"keep the conversation open" -- better, "keep both sides from walking away from the Communion".

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 7:28am BST

In his letter to the Primates on the day of him appointment, Rowan Williams said that 'the Lambeth resolution of 1998 declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion, and what the Communion will and will not approve or authorise. I accept that any individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the Communion'.

So whether or not Lambeth 1998 objectively forbids Rowan to be a drummer for liberal views, it is clear that from the start he has regarded it as forbidding this.

He also assured his confreres that he was 'not someone elected to fulfil a programme or manifesto of his own devising, but to serve the whole Communion... I have to distinguish plainly between personal theories and interpretations and the majority conviction of my Church, and have always tried to make such a distinction when I have been questioned on this subject... My ideas have no authority beyond that of an individual theologian.'

Give him credit for consistency.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 7:41am BST

I think Colin Coward's comments are very much to the point. Although the ABC surely knows that there have (always) been and are clergy and bishops in the C-of-E (and elsewhere in the AC) who would define themselves a gay (etc), when Los Angeles nominated a partnered-Lesbian, he was on the telephone within just a few hours to say 'Don't elect her'. There is some deep tradition in England, and perhaps in Europe, which favors hypocrisy over honesty and not only so far as sexual orientaion is concerned. I have already told the story here of Cardinal Kasper who said (speaking of Gene Robinson) 'A man ... a woman,,, that isn't a problem for a priest, a bishop, an archbishop... it is all a question of discretion' I asked the person (well, come on, it was a man) to whom the good cardinal had made this comment, whether he had retorted 'Oh, yes, what we call hypocrisy' ...'Of course not', he said. When I spoke about this incident and the state of things in the C-of-E to a happily married priest I much respect he responded that perhaps hypocrisy has a place, it lets others 'catch up', it keeps questions from becoming black and white, it keeps dialogue going and so forth. This shocked me as much as Kasper's statement. I wonder if there isn't some aspect of classism behind this attitude (we, the inner group know and do, if we like, but the hoi polloi wouldn't understand...)or if it is a sort 'good taste' (don't stand up, because then you would stand-out), if being colonials changed us in the USA (and Canadians, let's give them credit too), or if the Civil Rights movement changed us (for the better, just my opinion). Like everyone else in the church I have known and know many excellent priests who were/are homosexual, and some bad ones too, and many who were/are heterosexual of both kinds too. I don't think ABC's poition is honest at all - how can you separate any deeply held conviction about human dignity from your theological convictions about God's creative and redeeming action? Abraham Lincoln wanted to preserve the union more than he cared (initially at least) about freeing the slaves, but in the end that wasn't the choice. Thanks be to God.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 7:57am BST

Mary O'Shaughnessy, I think most people in the pews think as you do - they go to church, they worship, they do their best to live the gospel.

The Anglican Communion isn't very important. It has got increasingly self important since George Carey's time, and it is arguably, and on balance, no longer a force for good. I am grateful for those who fight to make it better, or at least against its tendency to do its worst.

I take Spirit of Vatican II's point. But I think Rowan exaggerates the value of the Anglican Communion.

It's just not worth it.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 10:48am BST

Meanwhile, this is still going on: http://enlightenedcatholicism-colkoch.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-community-do-i-have-to-go-to.html

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:04am BST

There are three gay Primates?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:14am BST

" Keeping the party going with its current guest list is the important thing, even if it means that some people need to be blocked by bouncers at the door…" - 'Integrity' Statement -

Then, if one can believe the latest 'hot news', from the 'virtue-on-line' web-site; there is soon to be a 'party-pooping' fiasco before the next Primates Meeting. Several Global South Primates have said they will not attend if the Presiding Bishop of TEC is invited. Whereas, the admirable Rt. Reverend Katherine Schori has expressed her intention of attending (if invited).

This will undoubtedly cause a kerfuffle in the Lambeth dove-cote, but hopefully Archbishop Rowan will offer his gracious invitation to Bishop Katherine - despite these ungentlemanly threats from the G.S. It would be a great pity if TEC's openness to gays in the Gospel is threatened by a G.S. boycott, but if the G.S. is determined to make this a fight to the death for their supremacy in the Anglican Communion, it will be their problem, and not that of the rest of us in the Communion who are seeking integrity in our presentation of the Good News of Christ to a world crying out for justice.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 12:05pm BST

Bring back the Royal Supremacy I say, and let Elizabeth II sort it all out.

Posted by: MrsBarlow on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 2:44pm BST

"Rowan Williams said that 'the Lambeth resolution of 1998 declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion, and what the Communion will and will not approve or authorise. I accept that any individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the Communion'."

Overwhelming majority of the Communion??? Really??? That assumes that all the Primates speak for the people of their Sees. This assumption is dangerous. I think these prelates have neither a clue as to what their people think nor do they care.

Posted by: Deacon Charlie Perrin on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 4:01pm BST

As someone who is researching gender and sexuality for my PhD study I find ABp Rowan's statement,

“the question about gay people is not about their dignity or the respect they deserve as gay people, it’s a question about a particular choice of life, a partnership, and what the Church has to say about that.” He does not agree that homosexuality is like another gender or race (as in the case of suffrage and civil rights), but that we all have choices about our behavior and as far as the church is concerned at this point, those choices have consequences in the matters of ordination and marriage…'

My understanding based on contemporay research is that the etiology of sexuality and gender are a complex nuanced blend of social and biological essences.

Posted by: clairejxx on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 7:13pm BST

"That assumes that all the Primates speak for the people of their Sees."

Well Lambeth '98 would measure bishops, not Primates, Deacon Charlie, but your point still holds.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 9:15pm BST

Yet again Rowan knowingly and one must presume, intentionally with clear premeditation, sidesteps the real modern empirical point: queer folks choose and do not choose their sexual orientations in pretty much the same ways that straight folks do. Accept that shifted direction as our working frame, and the questions shift: Why do we then distinguish so categorically, queer folks vs straight folks?

I also read Rowan sidestepping again the vexed contradiction, wherein one is pledged to believe any number of particular horrid things about queer folks (Their sexual orientation does not in fact genuinely exist, but is always presuppositionally reduced to a bad categorical moral choice to behave homosexually, for example), and yet a comparable domain is never ever posed similarly for straight folks.

Somebody who pledges all that failed circular-mindedness (proud in 1998 to be impervious to empirical hypothesis testing as published; and now, still just as wrong-headed and proud?) as the closed-settled mind of the global communion is in NO position to claim that he respects the human dignity of queer folks, nor to seek any credit for encouraging others to be less than violent.

Our vaunted Lambeth resolutions were transitional statements in a time of great empirical change. The statements were politically crafted in hot moments of heavy conservative lobbying under Carey, and we all know that, too. Rowan knows all of it, lock and stock and barrel - but will not work it through - not his calling now that he is archbishop, or so he explains to us.

It is nakedly, meanly prejudiced as presupposition and categories. As such, the prejudiced categories support quite traditionalistic discrimination and violence period.

Rowan, we hold you utterly accountable. No Free Pass. No Nice Guy Credits.

Little surprise to hear that BabyBlue has given him positive grades for spin doctoring to scapegoat queer folks yet again. Wouldn't expect any of these folks to let the children of queer parents in, out of the rain and cold any time soon; let alone the queer parents. Rowan and BabyBlue and such will treat stray pets better than queer human neighbors.

The false witness about Glasspool is a case in point. Categorically, as a given, her lesbian embodiment simply cancels out anything and everything else that God could possibly be doing in her life and ministry as a called bishop in Los Angeles?

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:59pm BST

I am interested to know if there is some secret list of Bishops and Primates who happen to be gay. I have no problem believing it, but it seems rather flippantly thrown into the conversation without much to back it up.

Posted by: Doug on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 3:32am BST

Mary O'Shaughnessy - I try to separate my life in the parish and community from my views of the global church. I worship and serve, but cannot be a Episcopalian and pretend that the plight of my LGBT brothers and sisters isn't important.

I am a cradle Episcopalian, and have that look, breeding and education. People count on me to express my views, and I do. Feeding the homeless at the shelter is a different way of serving those in need.

I beg you to stop hiding if you support our brothers and sisters who love others of the same sex.

Posted by: Lynn on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 3:49am BST

clairejxx, the "choice" he is talking about it the choice to live one's sexuality in a partnership, but it is true that he should have been aware of the bad resonances that word "choice" has because of its use by homophobes who claim that homosexual orientation is a "choice" (ditto for his use of the word "wound").

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 5:00am BST

"I think Rowan exaggerates the value of the Communion". As long as he has the job of being an "instrument of unity" for the Communion he has to ascribe to it a very great value. Gay rights will sort themselves out as soon as Anglicans generally make up their mind about them, but in the meantime learning to live with an unresolved disputed question and to bear patiently with those with whom we disagree is a far more Christian behavior than impulsive resort to schism.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 5:09am BST

There is not a shred of evidence to show that she was in charge of the Abbey... founding and leading are two different things. Read Butler's lives of the Saints. Go to the primary sources and stop side-tracking.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 6:14am BST

Rowan is a product of modernism and not the Oxford movement.

He approves re-marriage after divorce, contraception and women's ordination. There is a very good review of his theology just published by the Latimer Trust...Shadow Gospel.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 6:16am BST

"Read Butler's lives of the Saints. Go to the primary sources and stop side-tracking."

I think that's probably mistakenly posted to this thread, but it's too silly not to point and laught at.

Really?! *Lives of the Saints* as *primary* source?

Tell me, do you consider the *Blue Fairy Book* to be a primary source for historical context, as well - an accurate representation of life in the Middle Ages? How about *Das Kapital* as a balanced view of capitalist economics? I'm sure *Mein Kampf* provides a realistic and entirely reliable take on both German history and the Jewish race.

You know, I think I'm going to write a book on the history of Islam and the development of societal mores in the Middle East. I've already got my primary text - *1001 Arabian Nights*.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 8:20am BST

Yes please keep the historicity of Butler's Lives on the SSWSH thread only, please.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 8:43am BST

To get back to the Times interview which (R.I.W.) is the real subject of this thread: comments have rightly pointed to the fact that The Archbishop of Canterbury has both a private and a public view about the incidence of homosexuality - as a phenomenon - both in the Church and in the World.
In his opinion stated here, the ABC cites the long-standing tradition of the Church that clergy (including bishops) are expected to exercise their ministries without attracting the alarming possiblity of any scandal attaching to their public office.

This, on the face of it, is a quite laudable and godly position. What needs to be dealt with in today's society, and in the Church, is whether the term 'scandal' is, or ought to be any longer, associated with the prospect of a clergy-person (or bishop) living in a same-sex relationship with another person which, of itself, may no longer be a cause of scandal in the world at large.

My submission would be that, in view of the general public's more enlightened understanding of homosexuality, and its place within the natural ambit of human sexual relationships, now revealed through modern scientific observation of sex and gender studies among the human population at large, there should be an openness to the possibility that homosexual behaviour is normal to a certain percentage of human beings - created in the image and likeness of a loving Creator God - and therefore, acceptable to the Church as advocate of the liberty of Christ in the Gospel.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 12:09am BST

Thanks Fr. Ron. Equally important to the social / scientific data is the presence of the signs of the Spirit, which, _pace_ Dr. Seitz (see his confused essay on Acts 15 in _Figured Out_), includes other things than glossolalia. Arguably more important are the signs of peace, fidelity, love, unity, and prophecy -- which is to say, truth-speaking.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 5:21pm BST

I've picked up the comments by Bill Dilworth - are there three gay Primates?

and Doug: "I am interested to know if there is some secret list of Bishops and Primates who happen to be gay. I have no problem believing it, but it seems rather flippantly thrown into the conversation without much to back it up."

on the Changing Attitude blog, which is more an explanation of why I'm not able to give an answer at the moment. It certainly wasn't thrown into the conversation flippantly but with deadly serious intent: http://changingattitude-england.blogspot.com/2010/10/do-gay-bishops-and-primates-exist.html

Posted by: Colin Coward on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 5:21pm BST

Colin, my comment wasn't "Are there three gay Primates?" (indicating doubt) but "There are three gay Primates?" (which, at least in my mind, indicates surprise). I wasn't asking your to back up your assertion so much as to explain something I'd never heard before.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 12:15pm BST
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