Comments: Tom Butler changed his mind

"The fact that Mary has been in a twenty-year lesbian partnership was simply a non-issue for the many church people there who knew and admired her, and they found it very difficult when I tried to explain that liberal actions in America or indeed Britain can have dangerous consequences for fellow Christians living in minority situations in Africa or Egypt. But a responsible global church must take this into account and try to build bridges of cultural understanding."

I know this argument is often trodden out, but it is rarely if ever supported by lgbt people in Africa. And when bishops in South Africa aren't afraid to speak out from within African culture, then it's maybe time for us to consign this to the huge pile of smokescreen arguments that clog up this debate.

Apart from that - bravo, Tom Butler.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 10:12am BST

I’m sorry but I’m just not impressed by this. In fact, I pretty much despise it, not least because I have good reason to believe that Tom Butler changed his mind on this several years ago and waited till he was retired before saying so, just because he hadn’t got the guts to face up to hard-liners in his own diocese. By not facing up to them as their bishop and giving his open support to his gay clergy he allowed thenmfree reign to carry on, and he exposed his gay clergy to their attacks.
Bishops bleat on about keeping the communion together, and not speaking out, and they ignore the fact that the opponents of gay relationships have no such scruples.
I know personally at least six diocesan bishops whose views on this are the same as Tom Butler’s, but they keep them to themselves, rather than face up to the confilct they know that speaking them would bring. As the leader writer in the Observer on Sunday said, not speaking up is complicity in persecution.
I expect more bishops to say the same thing as Tom Bulter, when they have left office.
Shame on them. They hide liberal views and tacitly conspire with bigots while they have a responsibility both to the truth and to the care of their clergy.

Posted by toby forward at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 10:24am BST

He's changed his mind? on What exactly? This is exactly what I would expect him to write!

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 10:34am BST

"..the price of holding the Communion together can't all be paid by stifling the lives of gay people in the West and cruelly punishing them in Africa. The Home Secretary has changed her mind (about gays), and so have I"
- Bishop Tom Butler -

Alleluia! The Spirit of God fills the whole world!

And here is part of the evidence. Not only the Home Secretary in the Government of the United Kingdom has 'changed her mind' about the integrity of gay persons - so has the good Bishop!

Perhaps now even Archbishop Rowan will have realised that no amount of striving to keep the Communion together - on the basis of an anti-LGBT exclusion policy by conservative African and other like-minded fundamentalists - is at all of benefit to anyone but themselves. It will do nothing for the unity of the Body of Christ.

The move by South African Bishops to reason with Malawi about their punitive treatment of a pair of homosexual men in that country is a good model of what the Communion's attitude needs to become - in order to avoid the climate of exclusivism in the Church that militates against the Gospel principle of God's love for all God's children - without discrimination on grounds of their gender or sexual orientation. What matters is their common humanity.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 11:58am BST

Toby -

I had similar views, but a commenter said Butler had changed views and made them plain earlier in another BBC4 Thought of the Day. I've pulled this together, here,
http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/anglican_communion/bishop_pilloried_for_changing.html

He was even blasted by Anglican Mainstream at the time.

I want to make it plain I don't know much about how public his stand was, and will glad to hear this discussed more.

Posted by John B. Chilton at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 12:18pm BST

I read Ed Tomlinson's post here. I followed the link to his blog. Try it. You'll find two racist jokes about thick irishmen. Says it all, really.

Posted by toby forward at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 12:24pm BST

> the price of holding the communion together can't all be paid by stifling the lives of gay people in the West and cruelly punishing them in Africa.

A pity +Rowan Williams doesn't agree.

Posted by Robin at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 12:37pm BST

Yes, John Chilton, you'll note I titled this article "changed" not "changes" as I agree this is not a recent change. At the time I published it, I had not read any other blogs at all as I was abroad on Tuesday and Wednesday, and without internet access.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 12:47pm BST

The 2006 statement by Tom Butler was chased up by Anglican Mainstream on the basis of its ambiguity regarding celibacy or otherwise, whereas this statement is clear about gay and lesbian people in relationships. The earlier statement also claimed transparency in a Church, where clearly the arguments were being held back and coded. So retirement has made the difference. As for waiting until Rowan Williams's retirement, which cannot come soon enough, we have first yet to hear of the "consequences" of the Americans doing what others find insignificant, "consequences" however mild that might be interpreted in places like Malawi as confirmation of what has happened there rather than criticism.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 2:16pm BST

It is well known that Butler supported Jeffrey John on that famous occasion, making public his view that John's treatment was 'disgraceful'. This is in Stephen Bates' book. Perhaps that was the start of his 'change of mind'.

See also Colin Slee's view of Butler:

http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/4350.

Slee can hardly be considered a wet, inhibited liberal on this matter.

Posted by john at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 2:32pm BST

Toby: There's enough hillbilly in me that I laughed tongue-in-cheek at Special Ed's Irish jokes (as inappropriate as they surely are), then recoiled at his blog on the Los Angeles consecrations as "heresy".

And we all know what trumps heresy, that right bower known as "schism".

Posted by evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 3:27pm BST

Both May and Butler have got a darned cheek.

Changed their minds indeed ! That isn't good enough.

And he still has a long way to go evidently.

"Tom, There's nothing 'liberal' about ordaining gays Tom. It's simply human and good."

The harm done to Southwark diocese is hard to calculate.

And we know the harm May and her co-politicos did to gays in UK up to 13 years ago.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 5:38pm BST


"The fact that Mary has been in a twenty-year lesbian partnership was simply a non-issue for the many church people there who knew and admired her, and they found it very difficult when I tried to explain that liberal actions in America or indeed Britain can have dangerous consequences for fellow Christians living in minority situations in Africa or Egypt. But a responsible global church must take this into account and try to build bridges of cultural understanding." Tom Butler.

This is self-serving nonsense, from someone who has been disastrous for gays in one of the gayest dioceses, and a great let-down after the openly gay Mervyn Stockwood who knew how to care for his gay and lesbian ministers.

Butler has also had no time for listening to the concerns and feelings of clergy (of any sexual orientation). He thought we should just 'get with it without moaning.' No wonder so many get depressed, burnt out, ill and / or leave the F/T Ministry. He had not the humility to value the Pastoral Care structure he inherited from the time of Bp Stockwood, organised by Derek Blows.

Tom Butler has nothing to learn.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 5:45pm BST

Toby Forward had made a valid point.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 5:50pm BST

Yes, Robin, your comments about Rowan Williams are spot on. It is truly frustrating that he has not shown more courage and backbone on this issue and as you say: "the price of holding the Communion together can't be paid by stifling the lives of gay people." Maybe Rowan will surprise us all and finally stand up for the glbt community. He certainly has the capacity, so let's hope he will do the right thing. As for Ed Tomlinson's comments on the various threads, there is a point in time where his ignorance and language that he chooses to use in trying to push his narrow and I believe, at times, un-Christ like views, just become futile. There is very little value in which to engage the Ed Tomlinsons of this world when their narrowness of mind and heart overtake all sense of human dignity, especially when it concerns women and glbt human beings and their value in the roles they take in The Church of England and elsewhere. It does not surprise me to read in this thread that some of his comments in a blog would contain racist jokes about Irishmen. Sad. I have stopped reading any comments that he posts because his arguments lack love and charity, not to mention they contain a kind of hollowness. I hope he finds his peace in another branch of the Christian community but I will not be sorry to see him leave. I only wish him well but I think it is time for him to move on, which he doesn't seem to be able to do.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 5:53pm BST

Tom Butler's change of mind did not lead to him being free of homophobia on the ground -where it matters- before retirement.

Another wasted episcopate / opportunity = Why are the C of E bishops as much of a waste
of space, as the TEC bishops are prophetic ?

The C of E would be better off without bishops

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Friday, 28 May 2010 at 9:31pm BST

"I refer to those for whom the Ordinariate is extremely exciting and who will be looking to pursue this option regardless of what happens in future synods. I lament that this group is not larger because logic dictates to me that it should be. But fear abounds, nerves are wobbling and I discern that many are not confident they can presently lead congregations to the promised land." (could this be Rome, by any chance?)
- Ed Tomlinson's Blog -

For those of you who might be wondering where our friend Ed is bound in the present uncertainty, here is his latest statement, post-Walsingham. He also suggests that the Shrine of Our Lady there may never be the same. I want to inform Ed that the shrine is not entirely dependent on clergy or laity (or even bishops) of his ilk - who militate against women clergy.

Many of us who consider ourselves to be Anglican Catholics and are devotees of Our Blessed Lady, will still ask for her prayers of intercession - that women may be given their full dignity by the Church in all areas of ministry. We will also ask the prayers of Mary Magdalene - 'Apostle to The Apostles' - to add her prayers for the same cause.

Ave Maria, gratia plena!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 1 June 2010 at 3:33am BST
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