Saturday, 28 February 2015


Cole Moreton Five ways for the Church of England to stop making a complete and utter fool of itself over money

Kelvin Holdsworth The Archbishop, the gays and their sins

Charlotte Gale Ten things I have learned about General Synod

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 February 2015 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

"When the first thing you say about gay people is about sin then you can’t expect the conversation to go well."

Thank you, Mr. Holdsworth.
It reminds me of a certain president of the United States who, when he was asked by a reporter about civil same-sex marriage, responded first with quoting Romans 3:23 "we have all sinned and fallen short in the eyes of God."
Straight people seem to be far more concerned with the sins of gay people than their own.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Saturday, 28 February 2015 at 6:01pm GMT

Well-said, Kelvin.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 28 February 2015 at 8:54pm GMT

Kelvin Holdsworth is correct: social media is here to stay. Everyone is in the conversation. That means some wisdom, some utter tripe, some warmth, some coldness. I think, after spending some time negotiating social media, I've reached the conclusion that we listen, as in 'real' life, for the things not being said, for the things we want/need to hear. Archbishop Welby is a target and he's never going to please everyone. So perhaps everyone should try to please him. It's very counter-cultural!

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 28 February 2015 at 9:22pm GMT

Justin Welby is bound to be hurt by what is being said on social media. He's a sensitive human being. But he is also a public figure, and no public figure can have fame on their own terms. There have been some brutal things said about the Archbishop (by me as well as others) on this blog because, as a public figure, he needs to be accountable. And when he acts in a way that suggests he is not accountable, by stifling debate and misusing his authority in the CNC,for example, this is a legitimate cause for concern. So, too, is his lack of episcopal experience, his theological naivete (I heard him in the pulpit of Durham Cathedral when he was the Bishop there telling people that John Stott was the most influential theologian of the 20th century!) and his questionable analysis of where the Church of England is at. So, thank you, Kelvin. Let's keep the debate going on social media, because it will not be allowed in the General Synod!

Posted by: James A on Sunday, 1 March 2015 at 1:45pm GMT

Bishops need to be a bit more thick-skinned. In the past the vitriolic comments people made about them did not reach their ears, but now they turn up instantly before their eyes. This is devastating for vanity but good for humility. However it can sap self-confidence and induce paralysis unless one has adopted the spirit of the 8th beatitude and learned to thrive on being spoken against.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 6:30am GMT

Peterpi, actually, I think everyone, gay or straight, prefers tearing other people down over their sins instead of looking at their own. It's the way everyone is, excusing their own sin and practically reveling in others'. How many gays have "adopted the 8th beatitude"? They don't, they call it homophobia, bullying, bigotry,...evil. When the first thing a person says about the Archbishop is cruel, or "brutal" how well does the conversation go? But he's expected to just take it.

I find it interesting how all the comments here so far seem to be summarized by, "The archbishop doesn't have the right to say anything about gays, but we've got the right to be vicious to him and he has to take it." Perhaps the modern church needs to put a few of the lessons about "taming the tongue" to work on BOTH sides. Because both sides are guilty.

Posted by: Chris H on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 2:05pm GMT

The importance of social media is especially significant with Justin Welby when you consider the wholesale purge which took place at Lambeth Palace on his arrival. Experienced staff who had 'been there, done that & got the t-shirt' were got rid of; people who were not 'one of us' were moved on; and those who might have watched his back are no longer to be seen. In other words, he is surrounded by people he finds personally congenial, who are probably telling him what he wants to hear. When he logs on to social media, he will encounter people who are prepared to tell him what he doesn't want to hear. And yes, Chris H is quite right (as James A had already acknowledged) that both sides are guilty. BUT... social media is not stifling legitimate debate.

Posted by: Tom Marshall on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 4:11pm GMT

Charlotte, excellent comments. It exactly mirrors my own experience especially the privilege bit

Posted by: John Moore on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 4:59pm GMT

Chris H, are you really drawing a parallel between what I say on Thinking Anglicans and the Archbishop's words, which are far more influential?

You do realize that there's a power imbalance here, don't you?

Not to mention the Archbishop's _actions_.

Such as his support for the Anglican Covenant--a futile and misguided attempt to discipline certain provinces for their liberal stances on homosexuality.

Another example: The Archbishop's (apparent) behind-the-scenes sandbagging of the episcopal career of at least one person who (by the Archbishop's lights) is insufficiently heterosexual.

All we do here is write words. The Archbishop, by contrast, has power. If he doesn't like being held to account for his actions, then perhaps he shouldn't take those actions in the first place.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 6:19pm GMT

I'm interested in the assertion that Justin Welby has been supportive of the Anglican Covenant.

Could someone point me towards that please?

In passing, I'd also say that I'm a bit puzzled at the assertion from Chris H that the discussion can be summarized as "The archbishop doesn't have the right to say anything about gays, but we've got the right to be vicious to him and he has to take it."

In the piece that I wrote that people are commenting on here, I thought I said quite clearly that people would listen to the Archbishop respectfully if he would engage with them.

Maybe I didn't say that clearly enough but I still think it to be true.

Posted by: Kelvin on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 9:05pm GMT

As usual, Shakespeare nailed it:

"I am Sir oracle, when I ope my lips let no dog bark"

The Archbishops and the Bishops have been protected from the shrewd analysis of human nature which generated that line for almost all of the five centuries since Shakespeare wrote it, and are thus unsurprisingly ill prepared for their exposure to reality via the social media.

We cannot uninvent the Internet, no matter how much comfort that would bring to authoritarian figures around the world, so the Archbishops and the Bishops are going to have to learn to live with it. Perhaps some day they may even learn from it...

Posted by: Stevie Gamble on Tuesday, 3 March 2015 at 1:10am GMT

"Could someone point me towards that please?"

I'll admit he hasn't said much publicly.

But then, has he let the proponents down gently in any way whatsoever? Has he informed the Communion that the Anglican Covenant is a dead project?

Of course not. Because if he actually spoke about the Covenant, he would have to choose between his role as Primate of England, which has rejected the Covenant, and his role as leader of the Communion, parts of which want the Covenant.

We can infer that he likes the Covenant enough to not pronounce it dead. Or perhaps that he likes his role as leader of the Communion too much to pronounce the Covenant dead.

Because if the Archbishop actually acted based on how the Church of England voted, then some other Primate, whose church _did_ adopt the Covenant, might make a bid for leading the processes and structures that the Covenant envisions.

And we can't have that, now, can we?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 3 March 2015 at 5:00pm GMT

"Not to mention the Archbishop's _actions_. Such as his support for the Anglican Covenant--a futile and misguided attempt to discipline certain provinces for their liberal stances on homosexuality" - Jeremy -

Surely, Jeremy, that Covenant thing is already dead in the water. We buried its remains in ACANZP a long time ago. I thought even the C. of E. had given it up as a bad job. If that is the case; when did it receive the primatial imprimatur as resurrected?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 3 March 2015 at 9:53pm GMT

OK - well, it is my contention that the Archbishop of Canterbury, unlike his predecessor, has offered little or no support for the Anglican Covenant.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who thinks otherwise.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 4 March 2015 at 9:48am GMT

The Archbishop of Canterbury certainly said nothing about the Anglican Covenant in his presidential address to General Synod in November 2014 which was all about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 4 March 2015 at 1:31pm GMT

The Archbishop of Canterbury can't really praise the Covenant to the Church of England's General Synod, because the Church of England voted the Covenant down.

The Archbishop has refused, however, to tell the rest of the Communion that the Covenant is a dead project. And so Melanesia adopted the Covenant in November 2014.

I'm left with the strong inference that Lambeth Palace thinks the Covenant would be a good thing. After all it would elevate the Archbishop of Canterbury to new powers and responsibilities.

If the Covenant were truly dead, then one would think His Grace would have the grace to put the Covenant out of its misery.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 4 March 2015 at 10:26pm GMT

A further thought:

Perhaps someone, whether in Parliament or at Synod, should ask the question whether the Archbishop is bound to follow the Church of England's position on the Covenant. Then we might see some indication of a public position.

Right now it seems that the Archbishop is keeping quiet because (once again) he wants to have it both ways. Query of course whether this is consonant with his duties to the Church he leads--especially his duty of obedience to its policies and decisions.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 12:10am GMT

the Archbishop cannot tell anyone that the Covenant is a dead project because of the bizarre way the Covenant was set up. There was no minimum level of participation before it became active. It simply says that as soon as a member church votes in favour, it has adopted the Covenant.

The Covenant just is. There is no mechanism for killing it.

The oddity is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is one of its Instruments, yet his own church has not adopted it, so I don't know how the thing will work in practice.
But those who have signed up to it are now bound by it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 11:07am GMT

"The oddity is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is one of its Instruments, yet his own church has not adopted it, so I don't know how the thing will work in practice."

Of course. And it is more than an oddity. It might even rise to the level of a conflict of interest.

The Archbishop is caught between his fiduciary duties to the Church of England (which says no Covenant) and his hopes to centralise more power in the Instruments, including himself.

At some point, an enterprising Primate whose church did vote in favor of the Covenant is going to say to himself, if Canterbury isn't going to organise the Covenant entity, I will.

And voila -- a new communion within the Communion. Led by a primate other than Canterbury.

Seems to me that two Archbishops of Canterbury have been badly outfoxed.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 4:22pm GMT

Considering the fact that few, if any, of the GAFCON Provinces have signed up to the Covenant; it would seem that the Province of Melanesia might be one of the few in the Communion who have opted in to the relationship it promotes. It certainly could no longer be seen as an agency of peace and stability in the Anglican Communion at large. So why is it still being even presented as a possibility?

The real question in all of this may be: 'Who is willing to go along with the ABC's call to exercise the charism of Unity in Diversity', a one-time Anglican trait?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 8:19pm GMT
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