Comments: On the Archbishop’s Reflections

Thank God for this outburst of sanity, reason, spiritual maturity and intelligence. Please make sure it is followed up by practical action inside Synod and in the other deliberative and legislative bodies in the Church. Too often such good words bear no fruit because they are crushed under by the momentum of the fanatics.

Posted by toby forward at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 7:22pm BST

Heartfelt thanks for this statement and for the work of these groups.

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 7:38pm BST

Difficult to read this without feeling an answering throb in one's bosom, a tear (or two) in one's eye.

But it seems (to me) very well calibrated: loyal -but independent; cooperative and respectful - but defiant; discreet - but intimating realities of which all are aware.

It's also well written - far superior to the flabby banalities of Wright-speak.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 7:42pm BST

It is good to see this statement. It is spot on, and I wish the signatories and the people they represent all the best.

What is the Act of Synod and why is it flawed? Thanks from a clueless Yank.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 7:58pm BST

This statement is over due and highly welcome. Many thanks to all who helped bring it into existence, now, not a moment too soon.

I note that USAs StandFirm is already trash talking the statement, surely a good sign so far. They allege that the same two hundred activists are running all the multiple signatories. Well, one would have to be a stellar activist, to constantly make all those rounds on time?

Really ought not to be controversial, really.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 8:22pm BST

No Affirming Catholicism?

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:04pm BST

"These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion," I would only add 'for years.'

Posted by susan hedges at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:20pm BST

Wow! New spin on "The truth will out!"

Posted by Richard Helmer at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:26pm BST

I am so very glad to read this.

Is there a way for more groups (or individuals, for that matter) to add their support to this statement?

Posted by Song at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:38pm BST

Very good. Now for the follow up!

""These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion," I would only add 'for years.'"

I would add: and have been conspicuously lacking in some...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:41pm BST

I agreed with the comments made by the group.
However I believe even more firmly that the way forward for the whole Commumion is to understand that thw Anglican Communion is not The Church of England.
It includes the CofE but is not just the CofE. When this is understood we will have a much firmer ground to move on to.
Wayne

Posted by Wayne Bunny at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:53pm BST

Well done. Now for some active "listening" in certain places....

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 9:57pm BST

Somewhere it is lost that without the initial move of the C of E folk who eventually made up the Episcopal Church in the States, there was no other expression of Anglicanism outside the motherland. Where was all the need for "defining" Anglicanism then? Just because the American Church, in the American setting - so unlike the British -- makes faithful moves within its own environment, why all the fuss? The American Church is not one to fuss about the C of E and its overseas versions making decisions consistent with their respective national needs. There seems to be no willingness to recognize that all this is really a two-way situation and no admission that decisions in the C of E have long been made without any reference to the American Church . . . or perhaps any of the other INDEPENDENT national churches. John 13:34-35

Posted by canon k f king at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 10:08pm BST

Cynthia - the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree - hence the attempt to rescind it.

Posted by David Malloch at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 10:16pm BST

'We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues.'

NO...no....NOOOOOO!!! No ifs or buts re the Covenant. It was flawed in its beginnings...its continuings...and in any possible ending. Stop being so bloomin' polite about the wretched thing and ditch it immediately. How very silly to indulge the horrible thing in any way at all.

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 10:46pm BST

Thank goodness for a bit of Christian sanity. Being taken over by evangelical zealots meant that liberals seemed to have lost their voice. I have recently been threatened with legal action for writing against an ex-gay evangelical, who thinks they own the Church, and doesn't want liberals to say anything against them. This posting is most encouraging!

Posted by Fr David Heron at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 11:44pm BST

It is ever more clear that some sort of split will emerge at the end of this process - and disestablishment too, if the CofE insists on travelling further down the anti-gay path.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 11:56pm BST

What a good effort from the groups who had the intestinal fortitude to put out this statement, assuring the ABC and others in the C. of E. that the LGBT community already in the Church is ready to contest the present negativity regarding their Christian integrity and sense of mission in the spirit of the Gospel.

Also, As someone else has said, what the ABC and others need to understand is that we who are not part of the C.of E., but who consider ourselves intrinsically Anglican in ethos, are reluctant to be subject to foreign primates in our pursuit of the Gospel in context in our own countries, while at the same time wanting to continue our strong fraternal relationship with other core Anglicans who seek to include everyone within the Gospel's orbit.

I pray that the ABC will open his ears to this message and either expand the proposed Covenant to include the LBGT community, or drop it.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 12:01am BST

"Cynthia - the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree - hence the attempt to rescind it."

Sounds like separate but equal water fountains to me.


Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 12:59am BST

"Cynthia - the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree - hence the attempt to rescind it."

And why could those opposed to WO NOT exist alongside those who accept it without such an act? Was anyone forcing you to go to a service presided over by a woman? Was anyone forcing you to accept the Eucharist from a woman?

Or was it that the very idea that somewhere a woman was acting as a priest that bothered you?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 1:41am BST

"making provision for those opposed to WO"

Euphemism for "Building a Man-Lace Curtain where the priesthood---and most of all, episcopacy!---of the Imago-Dei-made-female is walled OUT" (w/ the intention, of course, to expand that wall wherever/whenever possible)

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 3:32am BST

Well a note of dissent here. It is too hazy by far about the Covenant.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/08/thirteen-unsure.html

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 4:41am BST

What if this falls on deaf ears? I mean really, after all this time, if the ABC is still using language like "chosen lifestyle" what's to say he's going to suddenly come around?

Posted by Curtis at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 5:19am BST

Thank you for saying this as a group. If the eventual Covenant suggests two track membership, then I am opposed to it, as I am opposed to the Act of Synod. If it does not, what is the difference between what the Communion has always stood for? The answer is millions of words and money to find yourself having gone full circle.

If you are not able to be 'representative', then neither am I. Una

Posted by UnaKroll at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 7:31am BST

At last! makes me glad to be alive this morning and part of the Church of England.

Now all we need are some decent right-thinking bishops who will ignore the pretended "collegiality" of the House of Bishops (or at least observe it in the way that the Bishop of Rochester does!) to get behind this statement and say they agree with it and welcome it and will work with it.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 9:32am BST

Well done on all levels. It is one thing for the ABC to disagree with the anthropological claims of those who seek full inclusion of GLBT people and another for him (and others) to keep (mis)characterizing that position as 'lifestyle choice' etc. An acknowledgement of the seriousness of the argument as one between faithful biblical Christians would be a start to acknowledging that we have been 'heard'. That kind of leadership would go along way toward obviating his perceived need for a covenant at all.

Posted by Geoffrey Hoare at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 11:43am BST

The question is not whether the ABC's present statements are at odds with his former ones:
(1) Even if they are, that does not establish which of the two (if either) is closer to the truth of the matter;
(2) To object to such inconsistency is to say that people are not allowed to change their minds ever in their lives. Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 1:04pm BST

The absence of signatories such as Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests is to be deplored. Surely, having close ties with Inclusive Church, these groups have been consulted. The fact that they have chosen NOT to sign must raise questions in the minds of many of their members as to whether or not they could/should continue to offer their support.

Posted by Commentator at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 1:46pm BST

Is Rowan still the Patron of SCP?

Posted by David Malloch at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 3:28pm BST

Christopher, I do not think the Archbishop has changed his personal views on the theological issues. He has changed his behavior (or, would that be behaviour) because he believes the role of Primate requires him so to do. This is one of the things he has made clear. It is also one of the reasons he (and Windsor) cast things in terms of openness to change of consensus. Were this a closed issue, there would be no talk of moratoria, but of prohibition.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 3:57pm BST

"... is to say that people are not allowed to change their minds ever in their lives. Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them."

Doesn't explain the case of Dr Rowan, though.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 6:07pm BST

Tobias Haller is correct. ++Rowan has adopted his position as a lifestyle choice.

Posted by William at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 6:39pm BST

What a wonderful statement by those groups. I choked up while reading it. These groups are saying they want to live in faith as Anglicans, but that it's also long past time that others get over their hangups about GLBT people. I'm not a member, but I wonder if it is possible for USA groups like Integrity to sign on as well?
canon k f king at 10:08pm 2009/08/04 BST:
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! TEC doesn't tell other provinces how to preach the Gospel or carry out their mission, yet other provinces feel free to tell TEC "Our way or else!!!" and it sounds like that's beginning to happen to the CofE as well.
Tobias, as far as I'm concerned the moratoria on GLBT bishops and same-sex blessings are being called such, but are in reality intended to be prohibitions. As far as the third moratorium, why that's just window dressing, intended to console liberals, to be ignored at will.
For too many of our conservative friends, there is only one path for GLBT people: Become straight or end up perpetually in Hell. There is only one way for them to participate in the Anglican Communion: In the pews on Sundays on their knees as detestable sinners, as less-than-fully-accepted members, paying their pledges on time of course, with no hope of being priests or bishops, if they feel the call, unless they are "cured". When it comes to ACNA and the other alphabet-soup pretenders to the TEC provincial status, and ++Akinola and others of the same cloth, I’m reminded of that parable of Jesus of Nazareth about the self-righteous Pharisee saying “Thank God I’m not like ‘those people’”.

Posted by peterpi at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 6:44pm BST

William, thanks for catching the tongue in cheek.
Peterpi, I think all of the moratoria are window dressing. Change is happening, slow but sure, and this wonderful letter is just one more step in the working out of the process by which Anglicanism will reform itself as one of the few intellectually and morally honest traditions for the 21st Century.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 10:41pm BST

Theoretically (especially if we are loaded on something at the moment) we can dimly imagine a church where everybody somehow came to believe in a Copernican Solar System, but meanwhile we must police and punish everybody who reads about it, speaks about it, and investigates it. Such immorality and apostasy cannot go unremarked.

If, when church ever changes as one then; we'll do whatever we do.

Meanwhile, I'm bringing you up on charges because you were seen by a neighbor reading the Journal of Homosexuality or some such. Clearly a thing forbidden and out of bounds to Anglican believers newly covenanted. Really a neat trick, really, as all we will have to do to bring a bishop candidate down is fire up rumors that he - I do mean, he, don't I - was seen reading a science journal.

Structurally, I just do not see how a church can unify, let alone continue, by demanding that the leaders at the top get dumber and dumber about those pesky hot button queer folks; while the lay people continue to be educated, and work with them on office or lab teams in nearly every single western democracy.

If the change on the ground axis keeps up, we will be harder and harder pressed to find a man bishop who has the required distance from and ignorance of real world queer folks. If the distance-ignorance axis on the new top Covenant Anglican tiers thrives, I cannot imagine lay folks having much connection to such a leaders in their sealed bubble faith worlds.

Legislating flat earth did not exactly work all that well the first few times around; now suddenly it is our royal road for coping with the changed news about modern queer folks? Gee, still got my doubts. On the other hand, look at the persistence of, say, Anti-Semitism in world cultures. Surely anti-queer stuff can last just as long, because we are counting right on it?

I think Rowan Williams should know better. If being a Primate means definitively that you cannot learn and change, we really are in a fine fix as new fangled covenant Anglicans. So long, Temple and Maurice and Williams. Hello, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell X and Rushdooney.

We believers can't turn our backs categorically on the real facts about queer folks; and then still have reliable access to the hypothesis testing methods which gave rise to those facts, and all the other facts, too. Is RW playing games here? Is he trying to garner full faith and credit for policing and punishing those nasty queer folks; while secretly he has little or no plans to build the new prisons we will require? If the Closet in England stops working, CoE folks are going to be in quite a deep pickle. Where oh where, will they put their modern queer folks?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 11:08pm BST

"... demanding that the leaders at the top get dumber and dumber..."

Haven't we seen this strategy in the USA? culminating in the grassroots (Birthers... ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 4:43am BST

Recalling the success of the MOW brand during the 1980s, there are advantages in having a single campaign under one banner whose aims are simple, specific and achievable:

Request Parliament to:

1) Amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples;
2) Repeal the exemptions to the Sexual Orientation Regulations (Employment) for organised religion.

It should be attempted in General Synod every Quinquennial until passed.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 3:40pm BST

Hugh

If the objective is to amend legislation approved by Parliament, then why bother using General Synod as a vehicle? Why not just lobby Parliament directly?

But, the second item you list is currently being re-enacted within the Equality Bill. There will be an opportunity to amend, or repeal, the clauses to which you refer when that is debated in the Commons and then the Lords this Autumn.

The CofE and RC authorities are already seeking amendments, because they believe the bill as drafted, alters the status quo. The government believes that its wording preserves the status quo. This dispute arises because the parties disagree about what the wording of the current regulations actually means.

Inevitably, this provides others with the opportunity to propose other, possibly contrary, amendments.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 11:07pm BST

"Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them."

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 1:04pm BST

There can be no doubt at all, then, Christopher, as to which group you belong to.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 7 August 2009 at 1:01am BST

"If the objective is to amend legislation approved by Parliament, then why bother using General Synod as a vehicle? Why not just lobby Parliament directly"

I think it would be very symbolic if Christians asked their Synod representatives to actively support such a legislation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 7 August 2009 at 8:52am BST

Hi Fr Ron-
Don't you realise that comments like yours play into the hands of those who would rightly point out that we live in a soundbite/twitter society where (even on 'The Big Questions', 'Question Time' or a radio phone-in) the idea is to make your point in a few sceonds otherwise you are doomed. Today's post about the quality of public debate is important because it makes this point. You know as well as I do that anyone can make throwaway remarks; and you also know that such remarks are the least important of all in determining the outcome of debates. They are mere points-scoring, verbal tennis, where wit not truth is the currency.

We should always stand with those who seek to raise the quality of debate, and who cite hard facts and figures.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:00am BST

Simon, I had the Quakers in mind with their recent request to Government to allow their officials to perform same-sex marriages, after a long process of dialogue within the Society of Friends.

As Erika said, it would be good if Synod took that step for the C of E. Parliament seems to want to take a blanket approach - what's good for one denomination or religion is good for all. We'll see.

As to the Equalities Bill, I think it is imperative that they seek to protect minorities within religions. The attempt to clarify the exemptions has had the opposite effect, especially with reference to 'liturgical practice'. And it's not as if the C of E can be clear about which lay roles should be exempt.

I agree with Maleiha Malik, representing the Muslim Women’s Network in the Parliament Committee debate when she said: "The way the exemptions strike the balance between the rights of organised religion to discriminate and the rights of individuals to be free from discrimination is deeply unfair. It gives too much power to organised religions to police their internal members."

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:52pm BST

Cynthia,

The 1993 Act of Synod followed the vote to ordain women to the priesthood in 1992, which had already made generous provision for the opponents of WO. It is worth noting that the 1992 Measure was the result of nearly 20 years of a synodical process with extensive referral to diocesan and deanery synods - the Act was pushed through after the successful vote in under a year with no referral to grassroots church bodies. Never say the Church of England can't act quickly!

What the Act did was create three Provincial Episcopal Visitors, quickly dubbed Flying Bishops. These are bishops were to minister to priests and congregations who opt out of the pastoral and sacramental care of their diocesan. They perform confirmations and ordinations. It is, whatever supporters say, and I do not doubt their sincerity, based on a donatist theology - i.e. your male diocesan is unacceptable because of something he has done. (We seem now to be extending the principle to what bishops *think*, heaven help us.) How this can possibly described as contained within a catholic understanding of orders, defeats me and many others It is precisely on our understanding of 'the unworthiness of the minister hinders not the effect of the sacrament' (Article 26) on which many of us base our opposition to it, not some sort of 'liberalism'. (See Monica Furlong, Act of Synod - Act of Folly.)

Meanwhile, this model has been co-opted to deal with other sincere points of disagreement, as we have seen around the Communion. Don't blame New Hampshire - the roots of the Communion's current woes can be traced right back to the Church of England's 1993 Act of Synod. We gave the Communion an institutionalized 'bishop of choice' model for dealing with certain kinds of difference. And in new forms it is influencing the legislation here about women bishops. See:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2008/dec/31/religion-anglicanism-women-bishops


Posted by Judith Maltby at Saturday, 8 August 2009 at 11:39am BST

'It is worth noting that the 1992 Measure was the result of nearly 20 years of a synodical process with extensive referral to diocesan and deanery synods - the Act was pushed through after the successful vote in under a year with no referral to grassroots church bodies. Never say the Church of England can't act quickly!'

Yes - but do remember many Diocesan and Deanery Synods had rejected the 1992 measure, and I presume you would not have wished to see any 'no-go' Dioceses? The Act of Synod was as much to open up the possibility of women's ordination in Dioceses which had voted against it as to provide for opponents.

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 9 August 2009 at 9:38am BST

I'm not sure about the word 'many'. Apologies for being a boring historian but 38 out of 44 dioceses voted for the 1992 Measure (that's 86%) and though I do not have the deanery statistics to hand, my memory is that the more local the level of synodical government, by and large, the better the 1992 Measure did. Perhaps someone else recalls.

The fact is we do have 'no-go' areas in the Church of England - they are Resolution parishes. I willingly supported the generous provision of Resolutions A&B in the 1992 Measure on pastoral grounds. But I would have preferred no-go dioceses to the 1993 Act of Synod, as the both the process of the Act and its theology are so highly flawed. The cross boundary incursions we are seeing in England and in the Communion are based on its flawed theology.

Posted by Judith Maltby at Monday, 10 August 2009 at 8:22pm BST

Fair enough re no-go Dioceses which then would have included London, Chichester, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Winchester (Exeter, Newcastle as well? I cannot recall). Re the Act of Synod, I doubt you'll find anyone defending the process or theology - just the pragmatism which means whilst there are no-go parishes (which presumably you allow even without an Act of Synod) all authority for their Bishops derives from the Diocesan.

Posted by Neil at Monday, 10 August 2009 at 10:47pm BST

Yes, I supported the 1992 Measure, which created A and B parishes, so yes, I supported 'no-go' parishes on pastoral grounds. Neil, you say no one will defend the Act of Synod on 'process or theology'. I couldn't agree with you more.

Posted by Judith Maltby at Tuesday, 11 August 2009 at 8:22am BST

"Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual." - Joint Statement to the ABC -

This is a sad reflection on the effects of the Archbishop of Canterbury's published remarks about TEC's General Convention's decision to include the LBGT community in ministry and mission in the Anglican Communion.

TEC's prophetic movement towards total inclusivity should really be an occasion of joy and thanksgiving in the Church Universal, instead of which, our American and Canadian brothers and sisters in Christ are being marginalised and chastised for doing the work of the Gospel.

The coming days and months will surely need us all, who want to see the Church opened up to women and gays, to 'put on the whole armour of God' in order to proclaim the Gospel to all sorts and conditions of men, women and children - both inside the Church and out - so that the world may come to understand God's love of all people - regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 13 August 2009 at 10:51pm BST

Anglicans have reversed their deeply-committed traditional positions on two major issues in my lifetime: re-marriage after divorce and the ordination of women. Such changes have not been simultaneous in all parts of the Communion and may still not be embraced everywhere, but we have lived and are still living with the tension created by new and unexpected insights and challenges. This untidiness is part of our history on these and many other issues. If we abandon it we lose something of our nature and gift.

Posted by Paul Gibson at Wednesday, 26 August 2009 at 9:57pm BST

I am a Reconciling United Methodist in the U.S. The Church of England is our mother church. We have 300 Reconciling Congregations and as many who are "Welcoming".

The "Welcoming" congregations are friendly and inquisitive about LGBT people, but they are afraid to invite us to join the herd. They say the time is not right.

When this comment is received in Britain it will be Sept 11th. Is the time ever "right"? If inclusiveness doesn't occur before the Reckoning, then it is a bit too late.

Posted by John Buckles Lester at Friday, 11 September 2009 at 2:37am BST
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