Comments: Bishop of Exeter's speech to ECUSA HoB

It all depends on what is meant by 'seriously engaging' the Windsor Report. That very flawed document has been scrutinized, studied, and parsed by many in TEC. There have been a variety of responses. There have been a variety of lengthy analytical papers written and published. To me, that is engagement.

But if 'serious engagement' is code for 'accepting every recommendation and accepting as factual everything written in it,' then I suppose there is a problem. The report is a report. It is not legislation. It gets historical process regarding women's ordination quite often factually wrong.

If 'serious engagement' is code for repudiating +Gene's election and consecration and undoing over 30 years of working towards full inclusion of GLBT people in TEC, then it may be time to let go of affiliation with the Anglican Communion - an entity that TEC is much older than, I might add.

I would be sorry for that to happen. But I do not see 'undoing' what we have done as an option.

And I would like to see the bishops who have no regard for diocesan boundaries also 'seriously engage' in the Windsor Report. I have seen none of that and none of the 'listening to the experience and gay people' from the last Lambeth, either.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 2:43pm BST

The Anglican Communion Institute has just published a perceptive analysis by Dr Andrew Goddard of The Bishop of Exeter's Reflections. Well worth reading for its helpful insights.

Posted by Graham Kings at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 4:29pm BST

Re Sathi Clarke's speech:

This started off very strongly; for some strange reason in the first sections I came close to tears, but it began to go nowhere somewhere in the middle:

"the wicked and unrighteous accommodators and collaborators with the imperial empires of this world has been overlooked in an extended and bitter dispute over matters of sexual orientation."

This is preposterous. The overlooking of the most pressing sins of the world by Christians is not because of a dispute over sexual orientation. I mean, REALLY, is it that easy to excuse the failings of those (all of us) who ought to be pressing for justice, peace and wellbeing for all on every front? 'Oh, sorry, we were too busy arguing about sexual propriety'. Is there nothing people will not blame on homosexual people?

"turn together to matters that are at the core of the battles between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of Mammon"

Justice for a homosexual, hungry and disenfranchised child is as important for a heterosexual, hungry and disenfranchised child.

"The heights of the word of God though are not preserved in loftiness and pureness apart from the depths of the world. "

Is this an inference that seriously addressing issue of human sexuality, particularly homosexuality, is somehow a lofty exercise in comparison to those of poverty and so on? Or is he saying the opposite? Why is it so hard for clergy to clearly say what they mean? Is it now a Christian virtue to fluffle stuff up in an ambiguous, offend nobody, 'ah, but then shblubble ubble fubble, see?'

"over-learning" What on earth is 'over-learning'?

in the end, it all seemed rather pointless, which was a shame, because he really carried me for the first half. Am I beginning to sound like a football commentator?

Posted by augustus meriwether at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 4:36pm BST

I would like to know how The Anglican Communion Institute and bishop regard the context which allows some African dioceses to accept for baptism men with more than one wife without asking or requiring them to put aside all but one of them.

I think it is a pastoral practice of great sensitivity, since in those cultures, to put aside a wife is often to doom her to slow death by starvation.

I do not see it as a tacit demand for the same ruling in other contexts. Polygamy is in fact illegal in all US states, and is prosecuted when discovered.

I do not see the African pastoral response to polgamy as an affront to my belief in monogamy for both gays and straights.

If we ordain our bishops for the church catholic, then so does everyone else. Does everyone get to vote on everyone else's bishops? Some would not approve women bishops. Some would not approve remarried divorced bishops. Should this be retroactive for everyone? I have a little list ...

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 6:38pm BST

To say nothing of the fact that in the "real" "church catholic" bishops can't be married at all!

Posted by Tobias S Haller BSG at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 7:13pm BST

I think that +Exeter would have been right to indicate that ECUSA must accept the Windsor report in full.

Liberals may try to sell a half-hearted response as "just enough for Windsor" (ie for ABps Eames and Williams) but the Windsor report was only just enough for the non-liberal Provinces. So the only acceptable response for non-liberals is *either* the proposed Windsor compromise in full, *or* negotiate another compromise starting again from the *FULL* rather than minimum requirements of the rest of the Communion.

Slicing the opposing position twice is not an agreement, or true compromise, it’s just trying to win ground by stealth !

Posted by Dave at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 7:18pm BST

Re the CT headline:

"*The Gospel*: 'wrecking' the comfortable status of the religiously self-righteous since AD33!"

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 8:52pm BST

Having read Bishop Langrish's address, and then Dr. Goddard's analysis, I am clear that he and I are not reading it out of the same context. I have said elsewhere that I thought this was a moderate statement, in no small part because of (1) how often he acknowledged that these were his personal opinions; (2) how often he spoke of the importance of respecting context (I agree with Dr. Goddard that Exeter did hold up that no context is supreme; but I do see the critique in Exeter's address that Dr. Goddard did not see of the "Global South's" lack of respect for the American context; no context holds primacy, but neither is any context to be ignored or discounted.); and (3) the Bishop's insistence that the critical issue is how we can maintain the highest level of communion, and not issues of human sexuality.

I had sort of a similar experience reading Dr. Clarke's Bible study (and understand: this was prepared and presented as a Bible study on a specific text, to give the bishops a flavor of scholarly study from other parts of the Communion). I can appreciate that there is a call for the imperial power to repent, and to address the concerns of the oppressed. Now, that does call me to consider both how this will be heard by Christians in other parts of the world, who see the expansion of Western (identified as American) economic and technological culture as the imperial(ist) threat; but also who in my own culture is excluded, oppressed, and, yes, closeted. How shall I profess to love the neighbor halfway around the world if I do not love the neighbor who is (or wants to be) in the next pew? How shall I profess to love the Dalit in India if I do not love the GLBT person I see every Sunday? Dr. Clarke doesn't really address that question; and I don't know that he should have. I do know that I have to address it.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 10:27pm BST

Cynthia wrote:
"Polygamy is in fact illegal in all US states, and is prosecuted when discovered."

Not a very helpful statement, with regard to Christian sexual morality, unless we know precisely what "polygamy" means in this context.

For example, a non-exhaustive list of questions might include the following:

1. Mr Abdulrahman has acquired three wives in Muslim religious ceremonies. He has made no attempt to register these marriages under the civil law of the state in which he resides. he has not taken advantage of any financial advantages, such as tax breaks, granted to married men under state law. Has he committed an offence?

2. Mr and Mrs Smith are atheists living in an open marriage. Each is free to take lovers as s/he wishes, and both do so. Have they committed any offence?

3. A film star, Mr Krooze, is an adherent of a rather nutty brand of religiosity, which apparently does not prevent him from being a serial shagger. He has married or lived with a variety of women. His latest squeeze is pregnant and expected to drop a sprog (silently) in the near future. Has he committed any offence?

It would seem to me that all of the above, from the point of view of Christian morality, are examples of polygamy. I rather suspect that the man most likely to be prosecuted would be Mr Abdulrahman, whom I would perceive to be acting entirely honourably in accordance with the precepts of a non-Christian religion.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Friday, 31 March 2006 at 11:08pm BST

Mr. Harrison misses my point.

Nobody in TEC would fear that recognition of the pastoral issues of polygamy in Africa would presage massive shifts in American marrige customs.

All I meant to point out is that the churches that comprise the Anglican Communion differ in many areas of practice. Some ordain women as deacons and priests. Some do not. Some consecrate women bishops. Some do not. Some allow remarriage after divorce. Some do not. TEC consented to the election of +Gene Robinson and said that in fact same sex relationships are blessed in some places. TEC did not say anyone else had to do anything.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 2 April 2006 at 1:17pm BST

Bishop Langrish wrote:
Looking around me I see those who not only stand firmly by Lambeth 1.10, but also see it as the litmus test of orthodoxy, and who are further opposed to, or have given up on, Windsor and all that it stands for. Probably nothing that happens is going to satisfy them.
Andrew Goddard commented:
Group One (or at least the bottom right-hand corner of it) embraces ‘those who not only stand firmly by Lambeth I.10, but also see it as the litmus test of orthodoxy, and who are further opposed to, or have given up on, Windsor and all that it stands for’. Although he did not name who might fit this description, there was probably no need to do so for most members of the ECUSA HOB. Langrish was clear that ‘probably nothing that happens is going to satisfy them’.
My question is this:
Who exactly are these people?
Since both Langrish and Goddard are convinced they exist, I want to know too.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 2 April 2006 at 11:10pm BST

Who exactly are these people?

Persumably David Virtue, the ACI, the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and the Southern Cone, (and indeed a significant proportion of the Global South), AMiA, the Diocese of Sydney, Anglican Mainstreamers and Reform worldwide - for a start.

All of these are out of communion with ECUSA: and none of them have said that they will reopen communion with ECUSA if it merely adheres to Windsor. The Global South's position has been clear for years: "all homsexuals and their supporters must reform and resign"; for them, Windsor may be just enough to stop them splitting from the CoE and the communion as a whole - but it most assuredly it not enough now for them to reopen communion with ECUSA.

Posted by Sinner at Monday, 3 April 2006 at 1:17am BST

Simon --
I think Sinner (although I initially read it as "Sinner on Monday" which I prefer) is on target here -- AMiA started before anyone was talking about Gene Robinson.

The problem with compromise for it's own sake is that it can shortchange the truth -- that is, if what the General Convention of The Episcopal Church did in 2003 was right & the "all homosexual acts are sinful and anyone involved in such an act must repent & become heterosexual or perpetually celibate"* crowd is the extreme position, then a compromise like the Windsor Report is a compromise between right and wrong & thus a departure from the truth.

*I would add that succumbing to the demand for celibacy for gays would probably lead, as it has in Protestantism, to insisting on gays changing their sexual orientation & marrying.

BTW -- I also like Cythina Gilliat's opening post very much -- "engagement" does don't mean agreement!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 4 April 2006 at 4:00pm BST
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