Comments: Do gay bishops and primates exist?

The good news is that any bishops who may also be druids can breath easier now I gather.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 11:32pm BST

I am of a similar opinion on this matter, though for very different reasons.
The CofE needs to sort out what it's views on homosexuality are, both in terms of a theological understanding and how it works itself out with regards to the priesthood. Until it does, the mess that grips the Anglican Communion will continue and it is no good for anyone.
Once that happens, those who want to leave will leave and the rest will either have to live with it or try and change things through the proper channels.
Personally, I hold to the orthodox view. However even if the CofE were to choose to go against the orthodox view at least it would be clearer what the church stands for.

Posted by pmt008 at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 12:23am BST

I appreciate the explanation of the numbers in the earlier post. While I have never had a problem believing any number of bishops in every Province of the Communion are gay, I had never heard about there being gay Primates before.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 2:45am BST

Rod, in all fairness to Rowan Williams....the Welsh order of druids he belongs to is... a secular cultural linguistic society invention of the eighteenth century and has absolutely nothing to do with the pagan druids of the path. In fact my local Catholic bishop is also member of this purely cultural is a great honour for any Welshmen to belong to it.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 5:34am BST

Awesome, awesome testimony.

"Personally, I hold to the orthodox view."

Good to hear you affirm (in all orders of ministry) those whom God made LGBT, and their partners, pmt008! Isn't it a joy (worthy of a -doxy) to rightly (ortho-) celebrate God's People, in holy Love?

Queer & Orthodox (TBTG!),

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 8:23am BST

Of course there are ! People don't cease to be gay when ordained bishop !

Glad Colin Coward is seeking to address it.

ah yes, the Gorsedd of Bards be something else, Robert is right.

I heard a nice interview with a Druid spokesperson on the Sunday programme this morning. He came over better than any one else I thought, as a witness to the reality of the divine in our world and lives. But then C of E interviewees hardly even mention the divine much.

Lovely new eggs from Manchester diocese are not a bit pagan we're advised but all about the resurrection -- can't be bad !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 9:36am BST

If Rowan Williams has no problems with there being gay bishops, and there are a dozen or so in the church presently, perhaps it would be helpful if their names were known more generally. Not for a witch hunt - but so that their experience and understanding could be used to inform the discussion, which at present it can't. I daresay that they have things to contribute but can't because even to say some of what they could might implicate them as being gay.

But there is nothing shameful about being gay - so why not say so? I remember the hoo hah when Matthew Parris outed Peter Mandelson on the TV or Radio (mind going can't remember which) - but in fact, that action, while it might have had a little mischievous party political streak behind it, helped the whole political class start to get a lot more relaxed about facing up to the numbers of parliamentarians who were and are gay. That openness also saw the start of the end of homophobic legislation.

Naming gay bishops - or even asking the ones who are thought of as possibly gay if they are - would not be an aggressive act - but might just help open up the whole debate and get us all beyond the culture of secrecy where open people like Colin get picked off.


Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 10:03am BST

But Jeremy given the current situation in the Church of England it is naive to think there wouldnt be ....well a witchhunt is perhaps too strong...nasty and unpleasant repercussions for those concerned ( and their families and close friends as well) The C of E had its chance with Jeffrey John. Yes his perspective as an openly gay man would have been helpful to the House of Bishops as dean Victor Stock of Guildford said at the time. But the C of E cant bear a fuss or to put it more theologically "truth in the inward parts" as the Psalmist has it.

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 10:41am BST

Robert Ian willaims wrote "Rod, in all fairness to Rowan Williams....the Welsh order of druids he belongs to is... a secular cultural linguistic society invention of the eighteenth century and has absolutely nothing to do with the pagan druids of the path." Interesting. The descendants of the highland Scots here in Canada are real druids. Go figure! --the wee Gillis

Posted by Rod(erick) Gillis at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 12:10pm BST

Sorry, but I am completely opposed to naming gay bishops. It is wrong to 'out' people, and there may be many and various personal reasons why people don't come out. These deserve to be respected and protected.

With reference to Colin's comments: I do believe that LGBT gets sort of swept under the carpet by many dioceses.

If you look at diocese websites, where is the mention of support for LGBT Christians or young people or members of the public? Where is the diocesan organisation and initiatives to address all the issues involved in being Lesbian, being Gay, or Bi-, or Trans, or gender-variant etc?

Why is it left to secular organisations to lead the way, in addressing the needs of minority groups like these? I know, as a transwoman myself, just how much pressure and desperation (and sometimes marginalisation) other transmen and women face.

Full credit to LGCM for their support, but where are the Anglican initiatives, the diocesan hubs for mobilising support? Where is the LGBT presence at all in some cases?

Because LGBT is an area of such contention, it seems like the establishment structures take what I feel is a rather cowardly approach of sort of 'airbrushing' it out of existence on diocesan websites, or diocesan structures.

Yet Jesus showed compassion to those at the margins. Surely the Anglican Church should be prophetic in taking the frontline on LGBT issues, even if it delegates such initiatives to those who can theologically cope with it in a diverse communion? Instead of 'hoping it will go away' or just not promoting an LGBT presence in dioceses, websites etc...

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 12:29pm BST

Here is an example of how the Anglican communion *does* show care and courage and leadership on behalf of LGBT youth etc - from Integrity USA, organised by the Episcopal Church in the US:

The recent suicides of five of LGBT youth this week is cause for grave concern. Integrity USA joins other LGBT advocacy groups to demand national action be taken to address bullying, harassment and the need for safety and inclusion for LGBT youth at schools, churches, colleges and universities across the country.

We challenge our clergy in the Episcopal Church to take to their pulpits this Sunday to speak out against all forms of bullying and the systemic homophobia behind it. We need to be reminded, over and over again, of the promise of our baptismal covenant: to respect the dignity of every human being.

We challenge the people in our church pews and in our communities to speak out whenever our young gay brothers and sisters are attacked. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 gay youth have been bullied and sadly, too often it goes unreported. It is time that we reclaim the rights of our young people to be safe in the context of who they are.

We challenge our politicians and government leaders to pass legislation to end any existing discriminatory laws or policies against the LGBT community.

We challenge each other to always be the face and hands of God in the world to spread love and acceptance.

Let us, one and all, unite to take action immediately so that no more gay youth see suicide as their only option.

We must not let these tragic deaths go unnoticed.


In contrast, the 'invisibility' of LGBT initiatives or presence on diocesan websites, the lack of 'ownership' and structures within dioceses, is so deeply disappointing and... in a way... cowardly.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 12:51pm BST

I add a hearty "Amen" to both of Susannah Clark's posts here, with one small qualification.

While I too oppose outing people against their will, I think those who are in the closet and actively work against welfare and interests of LGBTs are fair game, including bishops and primates.

Posted by Counterlight at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 2:21pm BST

When I was in charge of LGCM's communications - I would not allow an LGCM voice on with Stephen .... nor David Virtue (though the BBC caught me out once) and Fred Phelps and a couple of others ....

My understanding was that at Lambeth 2008 two celibate men who happen to be gay bishops were going to out themselves as part of the listening process, the story I got was that the homophobia was so "out and proud" that this did not happen .... Have others heard this story?

We were of course completely shafted at Lambeth 2008 by Groves of the listening process who gave the job of gathering the "scientific evidence" to one of only two Profs of Psychiatry in the UK who have a relationship to reparative therapy.

Once again, I was appalled by all the cozy relationships that sprang up with Groves ..... but there you are ... people trust the wrong people all the time!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 3:24pm BST

I think those who are in the closet and actively work against welfare and interests of LGBTs are fair game, including bishops and primates.¨ Counterlight

Yes, it seems to me that anything less is making a deal with the sleezy codependent exploiters of LGBT under some false notion/sense of ¨loyalty¨...kind of like the hooded KKK, New Birth´s Reverend Longs ¨blank check¨ ministry and others who use their power/office to harm others.

Posted by leonardoricardosanto at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 4:18pm BST

".. well a witchhunt is perhaps too strong...nasty and unpleasant repercussions for those concerned."

Yes, but bishops were appointed/elected to lead, and were not promised a life of comfort. Nor is it as if those of us who are out and active in the church have not had to put up with some repercussions... but we are the ones who have brought our churches to be Open and Affirming, who have brought the conversation to the table, and who have show in our lives that we are part of the church.

I have to say that I am not in deep sympathy with closeted bishops who cringe at the threat of repercussions...


Posted by Nat at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 6:28pm BST

People in the closet know their desires only as shameful and guilt-inducing. And they project their guilt and shame onto those who are open. Living openly gave me a freedom and joy that the church had only promised. You can't love in a closet.

Posted by Murdoch at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 6:51pm BST

I agree with 'counterlight'. One does not have to 'come out of the Closet' (or even be gay) to identify with the cause for LGBT Inclusion in the Church. Just do not blatantly oppose those people and movements who actually support this laudable and entirely godly and humane objective.

One does not have to necessarily be actively gay to be able to offer hope to those in the Church who happen to have been born with sexual ambiguity or even outright gayness.

The gay issue is not really a matter of sexual irresponsibility so much as a deeply-held human need for lifelong companionship and love. Promiscuity and loving monogamous relationship are two different ways of treating a God-given gift - whether one is gay or straight.

Faithfulness to one person is surely more ideal than promiscuity - whether one is gay or straight. The current climate of relationships that are hidden and sporadic within the Church is more harmful than any other relationship between two people - whether hetero- or homosexual.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 7:41pm BST

'Do gay bishops and Primates exist?'

Sorry, I don't have time to find the answer to the question in your headline, as I'm currently carrying out research into the excretory habits of ursine inhabitants of forested areas.

Posted by junius at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 7:51pm BST

I'd merely point out that some unlikely people are complicit in all this. When I posted, at a certain date, about the appointment of a certain person, to a certain position, within the Anglican communion: ' "x" is regarded as gay', Simon didn't print it.

Posted by john at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 8:47pm BST

Yes, posts trying to "out" individuals are one of the categories of comment that we do not approve. There have been quite a lot of them over the years.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 9:40pm BST

'Do gay bishops and Primates exist?'

Clap if you believe in fairies!

Sorry - I couldn't resist.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 1:32am BST

People who try to "out" others are subscribing to homophobic bullying and to the tenet that being gay is something shameful.

Someone said "Personally, I hold to the orthodox view." Well, the view that gayness is an objective disorder and that same-sex sexual expression can never be tolerated (under pain of death, according to Leviticus and Paul) can only be described as "orthodox" if you equate orthodoxy with blind faith in religious authorities no matter how out of touch with reality they have become. In any case "orthodox" is an expression better confined to dogma; on anthropological and ethical questions the churches have never formulated original views, but have followed the ethics of their environment; thus the naturalness and godliness of slavery was the "orthodox" "biblical" "godly" view up to about 130 years ago.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 4:59am BST

Don't agree with forcing people to come "out". History has seen it used too many times at the beginnig of witch hunt cultures e.g. the recording of who the Jews were as Nazi Germany was being formed.

It is sad that a soul's gender or sexuality is the basis of assessing their "worthiness" to take on religious offices.

It is even sadder to see soul's do horrendous activities (e.g. predation of females and children by "safe" priests). Sadder to hear that the reason to avoid it is to avoid expensive law suits.

Colin's concerns about the culture that denies and hides is valid. There is a "black hole" in that which is uncomfortable and embarassing simply disappears from global Anglican culture.

The underlying premise is that if it is not acknowledged or addressed in human forums that the problem does not exist or is not important.

Jesus, Satan, angels and holy ones have no such luxury. Nearly 2000 years of misogyny, tyranny and white-washing have not gone unnoticed. The souls that resurrected Jesus and put in place his covenent are no longer pleased with him.

The everlasting covenants and the principles upon which they were founded were not superceded by Jesus. And if they do not make sense without the covenant of Jesus, then his covenant makes no sense without that which came before him.

Jesus did not replace nor destroy that which was before him. If every human ceased to exist and their history was obliterated, the sins of Christianity would still be known by the transcendant forces who decide who will or will not be given "new heavens" and "new earths", and also decide what kinds of heavens and earths are meted out.

Jesus did not want to deal with his bullies on earth, then he can deal with them in heaven. God knows the kind of "heaven" those bullies create.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 10:05am BST

We all know there have always been gay bishops, Gene Robinson was just the first person who was honest and open. Without giving any hints as to who the person is, yes, there is/was also a gay primate, a fact that was known by many in church circles in the province (not Church of England) concerned.

As a rule I think outing someone is a terrible thing to do, even if the person is actively working against gay rights as a smokescreen to cover their own sexuality. In the US we've seen fundamentalist religious leaders and Republican politicians who are closeted gay men and have been outed either by the person they were with or been outed by their own public behavior.

Posted by Jeffrey at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 6:29pm BST

Some 20 years ago, a whole load of clergy I knew were outed, one after another, in the tabloid press. There was quite an epidemic of it at the time, and some well-known clergy had their lives ruined, amongst them both my vicar and my diocesan bishop at the time.

At that time, politicians were also regularly outed in the tabloids and also had their careers wrecked as a result.

However, now we seem to have reached the situation where it's fine for everyone - politicians, sportspeople, etc. - to be outed, in the sense of there being no nasty career consequences, except for churchmen. So, as Colin Coward argues, something has got to change: we have to get to the point where in a church context, like every other one, people merely shrug their shoulders and say "So what?" In fact, we're almost there, because the press has already lost interest in church leaders altogether now (otherwise they'd still be outing them). We have to move to the next stage somehow, and when there are bishops who enforce discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation yet are themselves gay (and this really happens in the C of E) then there needs to be dramatic change.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 8:18pm BST

This whole perception reminds me of the old sally: "Is the Pope a Catholic?"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 3:12am BST

When the Jeffrey John incident was happening, I wondered why senior gay clergy in the C-of-E didn't say 'Well our ABC is young, he won't be replaced by one us any day soon, so let's come out and stand up for JJ'- might things not have gone differently? I've been reading a lot about WWII just now and often wonder: 'What is the Pope, the ABC, Pres Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and numerous others - Christians en masse had put on a yellow star, saying: 'As our Lord has to wear one of these, so do we' - would history have been different? There is no comparison between these wrongs and I wouldn't want anyone to think that's what I meant, but a strategy of soldiarity - a pink triangle for example - might just do something if enough people gay and not participated.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 11:22am BST

I am with Fr Mark, Sara, Susanna and Counterlight! Something need to happen.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 7 October 2010 at 12:25pm BST

I take Fr Mark's point in his last paragraph. I think it was Reinhold Niebuhr who said that usually the church was 30 yrs behind society in many progressive we have something of a wait, I fear!

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 8 October 2010 at 1:08pm 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.