Saturday, 29 March 2014

More reports on same-sex marriage

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury was in Bury St Edmunds. See this report, with video, from the Bury Free Press what he said there: VIDEO: Archbishop of Canterbury addresses same-sex marriage during visit to Bury.

…Addressing the complexities the Church of England faces on the issue to an audience of 900 guests in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, he said: “We’ve a huge responsibility here for Christians all around the world.

“It’s complicated because throughout history the scriptures teach and the church is understood that sexual activity should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman and to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually. It has to be done with profound thought and not just because as there is there’s a very clear majority in this country in favour of gay marriage.

“Parliament has spoken very clearly and we accept that and that’s right and proper.

“We have to be those who are faithful to the tradition we’ve inherited and adapt and change as each generation comes along in a way that’s faithful to the God who loves us and we do that in the context of the whole church.

“It is unbelievably difficult, unbelievably painful and unbelievably complicated.

“I haven’t got a quick one-liner that solves the problem - I wish I had and I would dearly love there to be one but there isn’t.”

He continued: “The church does look very bad on this issue to many people in this country particularly younger people and we’re mugs if we think anything else.

“We need to be really blunt about that. We need to listen to them but we need to listen to Christians around the world and we need to listen to each other and in the discussions rather than shouting that one side’s homophobic and the other side’s betraying the gospel - we need actually to listen to each other as human beings.”

Some other items:

The Church Times had a leader titled: Room to manoeuvre. It concludes:

…So, what can be done? The most immediate prospect is an outbreak of small-arms fire, as liberals attempt to counter the House of Bishops’ negativity by expressing their welcome for same-sex marriage in various ways, perhaps not all legal. Similarly, we can expect conservatives to reassert traditional views of marriage, quietly supported by a significant proportion of churchgoers who remain uncomfortable with the new definition of marriage.

These are more than mere skirmishes, and the Bishops find themselves with little room to manoeuvre. The time and energy needed for the facilitated talks is running out, undermined by the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in society at large, and the damage being done to the Church’s pastoral reputation every time a couple is rejected or a potential ordinand is turned down. If meaningful dialogue is to take place as it ought, a new interim position needs to be forged that takes a more realistic view of the new terrain. The half-hearted homophile passages in the Bishops’ pastoral guidance should be revised, and the reluctant concession about prayers for couples in civil partnerships needs to be strengthened and extended to same-sex marriage. The Church’s reservations about the equivalence of gay and straight relationships needs still to be acknowledged; but some of the pressure would be off. And then the Church might learn how to disagree well rather than, as at present, obnoxiously.

And there was also this news report: Gay-wedding day dawns as Church remains clouded.

Both the Bishop of Buckingham and the Dean of St Albans have written for Pink News:

Bishop of Buckingham: Allowing gay people to marry enriches the public understanding of marriage

Dr Jeffrey John: Most Church of England people agree, same-sex weddings ‘have God’s blessing already’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 3:41pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

As I said in another thread, there will be no concrete changes in the CofE. They are once again sacrificing LGBT people to GAFCON - the ABC stated clearly it is about the global communion. As they will never change, we can expect nothing here in England. All cosy stuff about loving gay people and repenting of homophobia is just PR. They are siding with deeply homophobic bishops who believe LGBT people should be imprisoned and worse. They have made their moral choice now we have to make ours

Posted by: sjh on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 4:51pm GMT

Isn't it time we just dropped the name "Church of England". I mean, who are we trying to kid?
The Anglican Church in England would at least be more honest.

Posted by: Fr Paul on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 6:33pm GMT

“We’ve a huge responsibility here for Christians all around the world... "

Surely the Church of England would be better of if it recognized that is is the Church of ENGLAND and neither a papal monarchy, nor owned by the churches of Uganda and Nigeria, etc. Then it might be able to assume a prophetic leadership role rather than scurry about trying to please everyone while pleasing no one.

“... to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually."

It has been neither quick nor casual, but has dragged on for decades. The C of E was CREATED in less time than this has been lumbering, "decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years... for the locusts to eat."

"Quick"? It's taken longer than World War Two!

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 7:00pm GMT

Most of this is very positive. All power to the Bishop of Buckingham and Jeffrey John. Welby knows he's busted. Where are the stentorian voices on the conservative side? Nowhere. They know they're busted. Personally, as I listened to 'the World Tonight' last night and heard the two British Asian Hindu guys talking about their imminent wedding to the woman interviewer, I wept. This thing is so good, its self-evident goodness will sweep the board.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 8:38pm GMT

"to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually"

How convenient.

When done by politicians, it is cynically known as "kicking into the long grass".

When done by bishops, it is a mature period of reflection and prayer.

The effect is the same: less change, more injustice.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 11:20pm GMT

"but we need to listen to Christians around the world"

Including the ones literally calling for the DEATH of gay people?

This is exactly the sort of false equivalency MAKING "the church does look very bad on this issue to many people in this country particularly younger people".

For heaven's sake, +++Justin, let your yes be Yes, and your no be No!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 2:20am BST

I'd be more impressed if the ABC noticed, just in passing, that among those in the world-wide anglican family he wants to take into account are a number of churches that do accept and bless marriages between same-sex couples.

As for the CofE having to do that -- that's nonsense. The CofE is one of a number of sister churches, that's all.

As ABC he may, perhaps, have to consider more -- but that's his problem, not that of the CofE and the sooner he recognises that, largely, no one really notices or cares about what the CofE does, the better.

Posted by: John Holding on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 3:01am BST

Important, encouraging news though I don't know where this belongs as the African topic has vanished off the scrolling. Moderator please feel free to move to a better place:

In Midst of New Anti-gay Law in Uganda, Anglican Bishop Provides Safe Haven for Gays

http://www.towleroad.com/2014/03/in-midst-of-new-anti-gay-law-ugandan-cleric-provides-safe-haven-for-gays-.html

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 3:36am BST

"The church does look very bad on this issue to many people in this country particularly younger people and we’re mugs if we think anything else.

“We need to be really blunt about that. We need to listen to them but we need to listen to Christians around the world."

Because it's not the Church of England. It's the Church of the World, don't you know.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 4:25am BST

Who's for +Buckingham being Transferred to Lambeth Palace? Seems he is more open to leading and nurturing the Mother Church of England, without kowtowing to GAFCON.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 4:48am BST

We shall only really be sure that the C of E has cured itself of institutional homophobia when Jeffrey John is given a richly deserved and long overdue diocese. There are plenty currently vacant to choose from. After all fine words butter no parsnips.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 6:36am BST

Father Ron, I hereby confidently predict that + Buckingham will remain Area Bishop of Buckingham until he retires. He won't be offered a diocese let alone Lambeth. As the old Spiritual has it "Sit down, you're rocking the boat" and the Church Establishment don't like it, no, not one little bit. Besides, Bishop Alan will be 60 next year, far too long in the tooth to be preferred. It seems that younger bishops are now all the rage judging by the recent consecration of the Bishop of Dudley,

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 9:26am BST

Quick? Casual?

The AbC has to be joking. We have had BSR (1970) Gloucester (1979), Osborne (1989), Issues (1991), Pilling (2013). Please note the gaping chasm between Issues and Pilling - only filled by Issues Study Guide (2003), a naked attempt to try and make out that Issues was the answer. As we know, Issues became (somehow) the gold standard, and a test of "orthodoxy" on this matter, to which everyone seemed to have to subscribe. It was published as a contribution to debate, but the debate never really happened. There was just more drift, and the vague hope that we wouldn't have to talk about this because it made too many people feel uncomfortable.

We have reported ourselves to death over this one. But still there has been little effort to address the material by numerous theologians that would have supported a non-traditional move. I have yet to see any serious engagement in offical C of E stuff with the work of James Alison for example, or any attempt to look at Robert Gagnon's work (the last word for conservatives)and the various people like Walter Wink who disagree strongly with him. Still less has the scientific, psychological and sociological material been handled with rigour and integrity. The low point of that has come with Pilling according equal status to submissions from Core Issues Trust and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Even more disappointing is that the only other scientific material that Pilling members seem to have access to were two submissions by very definitely traditionalist sources - scientists with a religious commitment to not changing anything.

Now what we are left with is perplexed hand-wringing and double-speak. How can Justin Welby say that gay relationships be at one and the same time "stunning in the quality of the relationship" (March 2013) and something that the Church can't and won't bless? If they are stunning in quality - then according to the "by their fruits" test they are clearly being blessed!!

There has been a complete unwillingness to deal with this issue in a constructive and forward-thinking way. There are allies in Africa (Tutu notably) who could have helped in constructing a better way of thinking and treating LGBT people for his colleagues on that continent. But the way was opened to some of the nastiest homophobic gay hate groups imaginable (the dreadful Scott Lively. with whom Andrea Williams seemed quite happy to appear in Jamaica last year), and local church leaderships were heavily influenced by such organizations as Anglican Mainstream. Thus we saw church leaders in the South who took encouragement to support the vicious homophobic and persecutory legislation that we now see in Uganda and Nigeria and threatened in Kenya.

Our bishops let that happen. I vividly remember getting a phone call from Tom Wright, then Bishop of Durham after a meeting of the House of Bishops in about 2003 or 2004 carrying a message from the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, asking me, because of my personal connections, if I could persuade the then leader of Anglican Mainstream, Chris Sugden, to "stop doing what he is doing". I told Tom that I had had a conversation with Chris in which I told him that I thought he should not even start on the path he was then launching out on - but that I had not been able to persuade him then, and I didn't think he was listening now.

But how feeble of them to have approached it in that way! One personal phone call was not going to do anything. It needed public and clear opposition from the start. That never came, and now they are in the mess they are in.

When Justin Welby says that things are "unbelievably difficult, unbelievably painful,and unbelievably complicated" I wanted to reply:

Unbelievably difficult - that is no excuse for not doing a lot more hard work and fast.

Unbelievably painful - there is still a lot of pain in this country, homophobia nad bullying make life miserable for many young gay people. The Church's present stance is a massive missiological own goal. However, all this pales into insignificance besides the pain for any LGBT person (including faithful church people) who live in danger of their lives in Uganda and Nigeria.

Unbelievably complicated - no it isn't. There is a point at which the moral ground shifts, the clouds lift, and what is right or wrong becomes perfectly obvious to decent people. Those clouds lifted a long time ago in the UK. Treating people differently on the basis of their sexual orientation has become a plain matter of discrimination. The church's attempt to infer a moral equivalence between those who would like to carry on discriminating and those who think it is wrong now makes it a toxic brand.

There will always be people who think that slavery is ok, or racism. They are entitled to think what they like. But we don't try and manage a "good disagreement" with them inside or outside the church. Because we have fudged the issue over sexism, we are now trying to do it again but more so over sexuality. It will not do.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 10:20am BST

This thing about 'we need to listen to the world' really roils me. On the one hand, the voices of some quite frankly horrific views (bear in mind the Church is always calling upon itself to repent of homophobia) seem to be given the same weight, if not more, than the life giving views in one's own country. When life and death are set before us we should choose life.

On the other hand, if we are refraining from doing the right because of our historical post colonial connections then there should be a degree of honesty about that. If one has created and then largely lost an empire, holding onto its tiny vestiges becomes terribly important. But still we should choose life.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 11:06am BST

Jeremy I have approved your very long comment, but please don't make a habit of that...
S

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 4:54pm BST

Sorry, Simon. I promise to try and be good! :-)

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 4:59pm BST

Re: Uganda, Nigeria, Scott Lively: Stop hiding in the bunker, ++Welby!

LEAD! The world, and suffering LGBT people all over it, need the encouragement of a brave voice speaking for them. More limp, nothing-meaning hand-wringing only gives license to the voices of hate and fear. ++Welby has the chance to tip the balance in favor of equality, tolerance, and inclusion - in short, to lead, to be a prophetic, Christian voice.

I can only believe that such a voice would do more to bring in the many, many persons who are affronted and estranged from Christianity than all the "purists" combined. The time is now!

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 5:42pm BST

"It is unbelievably difficult, unbelievably painful and unbelievably complicated."

Ah, the sympathy vote. You people have no idea of the suffering I'm going through.

Unfortunately for the ABC, as I have written elsewhere, this is another example of how the arguments for equal marriage have now been won and the CofE is flailing around and hitting out at anyone they think they can intimidate. This 'I'm really suffering' reply is another attempt to deflect attention from the abysmal failure of the CofE to really engage with the gay people who form its congregations, lay ministers, clergy and bishops, let alone the people of this country.

By acting defensively, claiming special privilege for his agonies and appealing to parts of the Anglican Communion that have caused widespread revulsion, the Archbishop is undermining his position. The structured conversations, if and when they come, are going to be a dead duck because everyone inside and outside the church will have moved on to a place where what the CofE says will be simply irrelevant. All the relevant facts are already known, and the arrival of equal marriage is a complete game changer. Everybody knows that sooner or later the House of Bishops will be dragged into acknowledging that. It would be better to accept that now and be gracious about it rather than fighting bitterly to the end and losing all sympathy, credibility and respect.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 5:46pm BST

Well said Jeremy Pemberton. There are whole swathes of historical and theological materials which have been ignored, and it is nonsense to say the Church’s current position on gender difference is ‘the traditional’ one.

As to practicalities, the CT leader is right we need a better interim ‘holding’ position, given that there are conscientious, faithful people on both sides. As Jeremy says, the current position only supports opponents of SSM. A good interim position would be fairer to all parties.

My surveys last year find 44% of Anglicans in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, 43% against. The proportion same-sex marriage is (very much) higher in every generation. when asked the more strenuous question whether same-sex marriage is ‘wrong’, only a fifth of Anglicans under 30 agree. The Anglicans most likely to support SSM are under 50, female, and guided by their own judgement. Plus – one presumes – those who are LBGT.

So at the moment the ‘interim’ position is ‘holding’ the views of only one group of Anglicans. As was the case with women’s ordination (similar demographic), this is especially inequitable given that those who are most profoundly affected by the issue are also those whose views are NOT being ‘held’.

A just interim position needs to allow all the parties to have their views recognised and respected, in some better proportion to their numbers. Which means a genuine plurality. But that is where we need to get to anyway – permanently, in my view.

Posted by: Linda Woodhead on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 7:15pm BST

I think you're all over-complicating matters.

Justin Welby doesn't side with homophobes because he feels forced to by a misplaced sense of solidarity with African churches, because of a misplaced sense of concern about ensuring wide acceptance for policy within the CofE or because of a Christian love for his fellow evangelicals.

No, William of Occam just called, with a newly sharpened razor. What's the most parsimonious explanation for Justin Welby's enthusiasm for homophobic policies? It's because he supports them. Why is Welby so keen to pander to violently homophobic African churches? He agrees with them. In each case, if he didn't, he'd do something different. The simplest explanation for Welby's behaviour is that the policies he backs are the policies he agrees with.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 8:04pm BST

I was in St Edmundsbury Cathedral yesterday where Archbishop Justin was present to preside at a joyous, vibrant and colouful service of Holy Communion to launch the celebrations for the centenary of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.

Instead of a sermon, the Archbishop answered a number of questions from young people on pilgrimage (the theme for the centenary is 'Pilgrims in Time'), prayer, and how to live out faith that is strong and relevant to the world today. Inevitably, perhaps, given that the first civil same-sex marriages had just taken place, he was also asked a question about gay marriage. Significantly, Justin Welby pointed out that only about 1.5% of Anglicans are in the Church of England; 85% are in sub-Saharan Africa and that if the C of E changes its policy on gay marriage, "those people could not in good conscious accept the help they desperately need."

As Justin rightly pointed out, "... we need to listen to Christians around the world and we need to listen to each other and in the discussions rather than shouting that one side’s homophobic and the other side’s betraying the gospel - we need actually to listen to each other as human beings.”

The Archbishop's answer was met with spontaneous applause by the 900-strong congregation. Those applauding would not recognise and, I suggest, would certainly not endorse, the criticism of the Archbishop implicit, and often explicit, in some of the posts on this website, some of which ignore the reality of the Archbishop's position as leader of the world-wide Anglican Communion but also the priority of showing the love of Christ to all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Posted by: David Lamming on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 8:41pm BST

"Significantly, Justin Welby pointed out that only about 1.5% of Anglicans are in the Church of England; 85% are in sub-Saharan Africa and that if the C of E changes its policy on gay marriage, "those people could not in good conscious [sic] accept the help they desperately need."

So, Welby has just baptized RADICALLY IRRATIONAL OBSESSIONS into "good conscience"?! ["I'd rather starve, than accept food from a hand which---half a world away---may have just blessed homos"]

I despair. Kyrie eleison.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 11:43pm BST

"Significantly, Justin Welby pointed out that only about 1.5% of Anglicans are in the Church of England; 85% are in sub-Saharan Africa"

If the CofE is stating, as policy, that the social mores of sub-Saharan Africa act as a veto on any changes it might make in this country, then it is signing its own death warrant. Welby is making an open admission that the policies of GAFCON are more important to him that the country in which he is the established church. That cannot possibly be acceptable to, inter alia, other members of the House of Lords.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 11:49pm BST

Did the Archbishop really say "those people could not in good conscious accept the help they desperately need."

Is his argument that if we act justly towards gay and lesbian people in England, churches in Africa will not take our money?

I would suggest that if the African churches turn down support from the Church of England, then money could be sent to other more accepting organisations working with the poor and needy in those countries.

If the "help" mentioned is not money, but teaching and advise, it is very clear that they have already rejected any of that with which they disagree.

Can the argument really be "we have to put the conservatives first, because otherwise they will hurt the poor and needy?"

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 3:28am BST

Thanks for that report, David.

So, a 900-strong congregation gave an ovation to the appeasement of murderous homophobia. Including, we can presume, those young people you mentioned. So much for the youth of Britain being united in outrage at discrimination against their gay friends.

If the crudest emotional blackmail can incite a cathedral to applaud the sacrifice of gay people, maybe affirmation is a battle that just can't be fought in the present Church of England. Perhaps this is an organization in which LGBT people won't be accepted as equals in the foreseeable.

As I said, thanks for the report. It's a hard but useful reality check.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 5:45am BST

Well, this IS the policy that has driven Lambeth and the ACO since before the meeting of Primates at the Dromantine. It was then in an interview with the deputy editor of The Times, Rowan Williams made it clear, for the first time, we gay folk were to be sacrificed to the greater good of the Communion.

The explanation seemed to be that we were too small a group to represent any serious challenge and that there was a near unanimous hatred of us throughout the vast majority South, majority opposition and antipathy on the English bench and sizeable opposition to us even in Canada and the US that could be fanned into a "loyal opposition" .............

The Dromantine Anathema was not, I learned only last week, part of the prepared text brought to that meeting as a compromise position. It was the work of Peter Carnley of Australia fighting our corner for some small protection in the final Communiqué.

So, as Interested Observer argues cogently elsewhere, if Williams was prepared to throw us under the without even the safeguard of the Anathema, how much more will Welby be overwhelmed by the numbers game

Let me remind TA readers new and old the question we were sent by the Lambeth Commission as it was meeting in the US.
"Why should we abandon the traditional view embraced by the burgeoning Churches of the South for a new understanding followed by divided Churches, in decline, from the North?"

I guess that reasoning is still very much in play.


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 9:11am BST

James, you said "If the crudest emotional blackmail can incite a cathedral to applaud the sacrifice of gay people, maybe affirmation is a battle that just can't be fought in the present Church of England."

Is the "African" argument a valid reason? Or is it that after decades of casting around for a killer argument to use against gay equality, and seeing each one crumble in turn, the CofE authorities now think they have found a new one that seems to work - we would love to make progress on gay equality, we are not homophobic really, but these African churches are not as advanced as us, and would it be Christian to promote gay equality here if that meant that the poor in Africa suffered?

I first met this argument at a Salisbury Deanery synod, and it even worked on me, until a few days later when I reflected on the process of that synod and became quite angry at the way the argument worked. It was almost moral blackmail, but an argument that appealed to many there. A way of resisting gay equality which appears to be unanswerably morally good.

I would point out though that the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtham, leads a diocese which has had a 40 year diocesan link with the Church of South Sudan which is suffering the effects of an appalling civil war. Both parties readily acknowledge the relational difficulties caused by the CofE's faltering moves towards gay equality which clashes with the Sudanese more traditional line. And one of the major focusses of Salisbury's diocesan work is to support the Sudanese church during the Civil War with cash and practical aid.

Yet whilst Archbishop Justin used Sudan as an argument not to move towards gay equality in the CofE, Bishop Nicholas sees no problem with speaking out loudly in favour of gay marriage.

We can overcome this argument like we have met and overcome all the other arguments over the decades, speak the truth persistently and patiently. Gay equality in the UK is good thing, and if the Africans refuse our aid then that is the fault of their bishops and not ours. Surely these bishops are wrong in letting their people starve just to appease their own moral conscience. And is it morally right to destroy the Anglican Church in the UK through persisting with this homophobic policy, simply to reduce the moral quandary for our African friends. The arguments are there, we just need to have the courage to use them.

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 9:26am BST

"As the old Spiritual has it "Sit down, you're rocking the boat" "

Just an FYI--not an old spiritual, but a wonderfully funny parody of same by Frank Loesser in the musical "Guys and Dolls".

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 11:28am BST

'A just interim position needs to allow all the parties to have their views recognised and respected, in some better proportion to their numbers. Which means a genuine plurality. But that is where we need to get to anyway – permanently, in my view.'

I totally agree with this.

Of course, achieving that just interim position will take some doing. Time presses. People have lives (and deaths). Disobedience is the way to go.

Being a feeble, unprincipled person, I never understand why many people with a particular view-point, legitimate enough in itself, always insist that EVERYBODY has to toe the line of that view-point.

Posted by: John on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 11:46am BST

"we would love to make progress on gay equality, we are not homophobic really, but these African churches are not as advanced as us,"

It has a name on the left. It is called "the racism of low expectations". Under the guise of being progressive, it infantilises and removes moral agency. You see it in many guises: "it's OK to criticise Christians because they are rational and not likely to bomb you, but Muslims are a little bit violent and you can't be too careful". "Oh, young black men, they've got a fine natural sense of rhythm and all, but as for Further Maths, well, it's not _relevant_ is it?" It essentialises people by their ethnicity, and ascribes to that ethnicity fixed characteristics that "we" must understand and accept that "they" are incapable of change because, well, they're just not quite as clever as us, are they?

It's a new version of the white man's burden, and that people who think of themselves as progressive use it without irony is shocking.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 11:50am BST

It is perhaps good to recall that Americans and Canadians are also "Christians around the world" and have a voice in the councils of the communion -- in spite of efforts to exclude them. The real test will be to see if Welby bends to the explicit pressure to trim the Primates of "western" influence. A wise host will invite all, and let the unhappy depart on their own.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 1:47pm BST

Let's be sure that we understand the final level of Welby's argument--a level apparently unstated in his cathedral appearance.

It isn't just that African churches won't accept charity from the Church of England, and that this hurts the poor in Africa.

No, no. As others have said above, that point is easily rebutted. The CofE can just work through other charities that serve Africa.

Rather, Welby's concern is that African churches won't accept financial aid from the Church of England if it supports equal marriage, but the African churches _will_ accept that aid from other churches elsewhere.

Which means that the CofE loses influence in Africa, compared to other traditions and denominations.

This is not the best argument on its own terms--for is there any evidence that giving money to African churches makes them any more via media, Elizabethan Settlement Anglican?

But leaving that aside, the point that Welby is making is not one about charitable impact--although that is the more publicly palatable version.

Welby's real concern is rather one of ecclesiastical realpolitik. It's a spheres-of-influence concern.

The imperial game apparently must continue in theological guise. So the African tail wags the London dog.

Why doesn't Lambeth just give it up?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 1:49pm BST

Again, I think Interested Observer fails to see the heavy irony in Simon's comment - he also seems to miss the fact that Simon Dawson is characterising if not caricaturing the way the CofE appears to promote its policy for the domestic consumer.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 1:58pm BST

Yes, Jeremy, and if it is not the Queen's shilling they are taking then it used to be TEC who produced the cheque book at every Communion event.

Now it is those nasty fundamentalist Americans who are trying to take control with their cheque books, or those separated TEC parishes or even worse and most likely, the diocese of Sydney, spreading its unique form of Calvinism.

It is true that Sydney has taken control over priestly formation in several African countries.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 7:02pm BST

On this occasion, I don't believe I have missed irony.

Simon laid out his perception of what Welby is arguing.

I agreed, adding that his perception of Welby's thinking (that you have to "make allowances" and "give time" and generally accept lower standards) is, in fact, the racism of low expectations. Aside from giving it a name, I don't see any difference.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 7:12pm BST

Martin,

You are right, in that I am "characterising if not caricaturing" what appears to be a policy. I have no idea if what Archbishop Justin is doing is a deliberate ploy or not, and in fact I have come across the same argument in other places too. But it does seem to be an effective argument which could easily gain traction. So the argument as I have outlined it (or similar) should be described and challenged as widely as possible before they become established.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 9:28pm BST

I think somebody needs to remind His Grace of the debate and votes on the Anglican Covenant. As those demonstrated, we don't like taking orders from outsiders in the Church of England.

On this specific issue, some of it is natural and quite correct revulsion at being told what to do about same-sex relationships by people who thing that those in them should be locked up for long prison terms and, in some cases, executed.

Some of it is because we started the Anglican Communion, and don't like being told what's acceptable within it by Johnny Foreigner. It's a bit like the wonderfully English capacity to find it unfair that other countries' teams usually win the World Cup - we invented the bloody game after all. I have no doubt that Justin finds this sort of puerile nationalism obnoxious, as do I, but there's nothing anyone can do about it. And for once in my life, I'm rather grateful for it.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Monday, 31 March 2014 at 11:35pm BST

If the Church of England - into which I was baptized and confirmed in the Coventry Diocese many years ago - has to tailor its current theology by the homophobic and sexist status quo of the GAFCON Churches, then I have, in all conscience, to sever my personal ties with our Mother Church. Not because I want to, but simply because I do not, and cannot, identify with homophobia or sexism in the Church to which I, notionally, belong.

I say notionally, because that was my cradle of catholicity. However, as a retired priest still working for the Gospel in New Zealand (ACANZP), I cannot identify my self as a member of a national Church that prefers the theology of GAFCON to that of the Anglican Churches that seek to include the LGBT community - that has no other way of being.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 1:07am BST

"some of which ignore the reality of the Archbishop's position as leader of the world-wide Anglican Communion but also the priority of showing the love of Christ to all our brothers and sisters in Christ."

Good grief! Where to start? Let's start with Desmond Tutu, he's an Anglican African leader who believes in human rights for all, including LGBT persons.

Condoning human rights violations for the sake of unity with the violators? Wow!

Africans won't accept the help they need if we don't coddle their human rights violations? You know, TEC still has a very strong and vibrant presence in numerous places in Africa. Our position on justice and humanity for all doesn't seem to stop them from accepting our help.

The ABC, and apparently the applauders at this event, is talking about showing the love of Christ to all of our brothers and sisters? How exactly? By throwing LGBT brothers and sisters under the bus?

The ABC's position is appalling.

Jesus never said "unity at all costs, especially justice."

The ABC was picked by the CNC with no international representation (I know, Wales, right…). It will be happy day when he drops the pretense of leading the "world wide Anglican communion" and does justice at home.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 3:17am BST

If some people start clapping at a big, public, charged event, others will join them. It's a psychological thing - the Prince of Wales clapped the speech at Diana's funeral which largely consisted of an attack on himself. The reality - as we all here know - is that church opinion on 'gay marriage' in church is split about 50/50, and the yeas will certainly rather soon become the majority. It's important to discern positives and build on them.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 10:25am BST

"Good grief! Where to start? Let's start with Desmond Tutu, he's an Anglican African leader who believes in human rights for all, including LGBT persons."

And let's continue with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who will continue to minister to Ugandan lbgt people despite the risk to himself.

I'd rather we listened to those than to the morally bankrupt once who supported a 5 hour public celebration of the Ugandan anti gay laws:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/uganda-celebrates-anti-gay-law-with-five-hour-ceremony

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 11:33am BST

Really breathtaking. The churches in Uganda and Nigeria are supporting the criminalization of homosexuality; I suppose people in the UK should feel fortunate that Abp Justin is at least not calling for gays to go to prison. If that's the standard, there's no hope.

Posted by: IT on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 at 2:23am BST

That's it for me. Justin Welby has just hung himself on one hook too many. I am still trying to get my head around the notion that we cannot support same-sex marriages in our country because it will upset homophobic Christians in other countries who will refuse our aid if we do not do what they want! And he got applause for that?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 at 5:24pm BST

No IT, it's much worse than that.

The Primate of Nigeria has now admitted that these laws were initiated by the Churches of Nigeria and Uganda.
Sadly, Jeremy Pemberton's cautionary tale of ineptitude and failure to act is just a part of a catalogue of disasters we have seen happen.

Many years ago before these laws were known we (LGCM) had intelligence from inside Akinola's office that the first drafts emanated from there. We passed on this intelligence to Lambeth and ACO secretly to protect our source.
She has recently died.

Despite all this, despite clear evidence of their murderous intent, when it came to the Primates Meeting at the Dar es Salaam and this evil legislation was being openly debated for the first time in the legislature - it didn't get a mention.

As we know the outcome of that gathering was simply to attack and undermine TEC solely on the grounds of their embrace (somewhat partial at the time) of gay folk.

That was when I and many others who had been trying to keep the ideals of the Communion alive, realised we were being deceived.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 at 8:55pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.