Comments: Archbishop of Perth dissents from synod motion on human sexuality

What a mealy mouthed piece of fragmented thinking from Roger Herft. Is this the same bishop that once had episcopal oversight of the diocese of Waikato in New Zealand? Indeed it is, but barely recognisable now. Always able to sacrifice logic in the cause of ambition, what on earth has he got his eyes set on now? Maybe he has forgotten who he is, which can happen.

Posted by Disgraceful at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 5:27pm GMT

Am I reading Herft's letter correctly?

He seems to be saying that he cannot accept:

"That the Church acknowledge that legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships may coexist with legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman"


"the recognition of diversity in identity and theologies can lead to a view that all sexual identity and theologies, however diverse they are, are acceptable. The word 'recognition' connotes formal acceptance. The Church cannot formally accept certain certain behaviours. Sexual identity and theological diversity that permits abuse, promiscuity and exploitation is abhorrent."

Is he really saying the Church cannot recognize same-sex relationships because that would permit the recognition of abuse, promiscuity, and explotation? Really?

This doesn't quite equal the farcicality of the argument against same sex marriage expressed in the British House of Lords concerning the problems of the royal succession related sperm donation to the female partner of a future lesbian queen. But it comes depressingly close.

Posted by dr.primrose at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 8:50pm GMT

I have no words. Except, Kyrie Eleison!

Posted by JCF at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 12:48am GMT

Is it not strange that, while accepting the fact that there are Gay and Lesbian clergy in his diocese, and that LGTQ (he does not mention Bi-sexuals) people are welcome in his parishes; the Archbishop of Perth should veto the wishes of his Diocesan Synod - both clerical and lay - in order to impose his ban on recogizing same-sex relationships?

Does he not realise that the worst problem in any sexual relationship is that of infidelity - which is as rife in heterosexual as well as homosexual people? The Church has a need to encourage people to embark on, and seek to sustain, monogamous, faithful relationships, than can be a pillar of the community?

The Church no longer requires a couple to have to produce children in order to validate a marriage. So why should the lack of procreative capacity be a barrier to same-sex relationship that are true and faithful? Is this not preferable to the problems of promiscuity, where children are often at risk - even in a heterosexual marriage?

I fail to see his logic, never mind his theology.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 1:04am GMT

You have to see Roger Herft in his background. He came from Sri lanka, where his family were burghers. A small minority descended from seventeenth century Dutch sailors and native women. Although progressive on women and divorce, his cultural ethos and that of the burghers is very conservative in the realms of gender sexuality.

Posted by Riobert ian williams at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 7:50am GMT

"Although progressive on women and divorce, his cultural ethos and that of the burghers is very conservative in the realms of gender sexuality"

Translation: Although progressive in the realms of gender and sexuality insofar as it affects him and those like him, he's prepared to fall back on reaction where minorities are concerned.

Posted by Geoff at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 12:09pm GMT

Being LGBT is hardly unknown among Burghers! Roger Herft's response is disappointing. If he thinks the wording is too vague, he could propose a more precise alternative.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 6:35pm GMT

"the farcicality of the argument against same sex marriage expressed in the British House of Lords concerning the problems of the royal succession related sperm donation to the female partner of a future lesbian queen"

Dr. Primrose,
1) I have to admire the Lord who brought this up for seeing that it at least is a possibility. While the Lord may have thought "Horrors!", other Lords may have thought "And your point is ...?"
2) Re: Succession, I suppose I'm too egalitarian, but a baby is a baby is a baby. But, I suppose it could depend on whether the queen or her female consort had the kid, and what if the queen carried a baby with donated sperm and the consort's egg -- a not uncommon occurrence, among lesbian couples I've known?

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 8:13pm GMT

Peter, of course the problem of the royal succession related sperm donation to the female partner of a future lesbian queen is a "possibility." Statistically, everything is a "possibility." It's statistically possible that the sun might blow up tomorrow.

But why should equal marriage for same-sex couples in England be denied now because of the clearly small statistical possibility of the sperm donation to the female partner of a future lesbian queen? After the current monarch, there's not even a prospect of a queen on the horizon, much less a lesbian one.

Under this line of thinking, we should entirely abolish opposite-sex marriage in England because there's a potential succession problem if a future queen and her consort are both infertile and the queen is implanted with a fertilized egg where both the egg and the sperm come from persons other than the royal couple.

In either case, the general laws of England concerning marriage should not depend on statistically "possible" (but wildly unlikely) scenarios connected with the royal succession.

Posted by dr.primrose at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 11:03pm GMT

I think it was Andrew Brown (but it may have been someone else) who said that the question of whether a baby of a lesbian queen would succeed to the throne would be either "yes" or "no".
Problem solved.
It has nothing to do with marriage equality.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 3:42pm GMT

At the moment, the answer to the question is apparently "no", both to the scenario of a lesbian queen and of Dr Primrose's scenario of infertility. The way the law is drafted (the 1701 Act of Succession) only legitimate biological children of the monarch may succeed, and adopted children cannot inherit under any circumstances. This is taken to exclude anyone who is the result of sperm and/or egg donation.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 5:14pm GMT

Interesting set of articles on Archbishop Roger Herft withholding consent. It shines a light on the tension between bishops as a bond of unity between their local church and the wider church vis a vis their striving for unity within their diocese.

One recalls how Archbishop Williams appealed to the order of Bishops in ECUSA, for example, with all the implications of that for American bishops on the domestic front.

Just last week a report out of the Canadian House of bishops signals the nervousness of bishops over a resolution passed by the Canadian Synod July past--one setting in motion the possibility of revising the marriage Canon so that marriage will be open to same sex couples. This would not be the first time that Canadian bishops have attempted to toss a spanner in the decisions of their GS--but clearly some of their members are worried about how marriage for same sex couples will play internationally, and how it will make life less "peaceful" for them as bishops. It seems an episcopate that leads has trouble leading in a synodically governed church.More can be found here:

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 5:54pm GMT
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