Comments: Archbishop of York responds to statements by Hull vicar

“Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England."

Except, apparently, when clergy want to marry. To enter into an estate established by God "as a remedy against sin."

Then the "nature of the Church of England" becomes rather different.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 1:11am BST

Sometimes you get the sense that here in Hull the Puritans have never quite gone away. His church occupies a crossroads not far from the university, but he seems to be of one singular opinion, like a one way street going backwards, unlike the Archbishop of York who wants his opinion more like being on a roundabout.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 2:06am BST

Inevitably, the headline here is going to be 'vicar compares homosexuality to paedophilia' (which it's not quite clear to me that he in fact did). But it seems to me that there's a much bigger and much more important question raised by Melvin Tinker's remarks, which were actually as follows: "Would he [i.e., Canon Smith] say serial adulterers should be welcome in the church? Should he say that people who are engaged in paedophilia should be involved in the church?”

Am I the only person to whom it seems obvious that the answer to both these questions ought to be 'yes, of course'? Never mind blessing gay pride parades, is Rev Tinker actually suggesting that the church ought to exclude and alienate adulterers and paedophiles? This cuts to the quick. Whether certain relationships are or are not sinful is a question that we can debate endlessly (and it looks like we probably will). But to suggest that the church ought to exclude people known or believed to be guilty of sexual sins is outright heresy. I believe it was the fourth-century Donatists who held that the visible church should be a community of the sinless, a proud and pure society of God's personal favourites. The orthodox, by contrast, hold that the church on earth can only ever be a triage clinic for sinners. Rev Tinker should be exhorting adulterers and paedophiles (and gay people too, of course, and straight ones, and everyone else) to come into the church, not banishing them to the outer darkness.

I am willing to share a church with homophobes, I am happy to share the church with sex-offenders and criminals. Even the unregenerate must be ushered in, the good seed with the bad. But latter-day Donatists who want to create a commonwealth of the spiritually impeccable are and always will be utter strangers to the Gospel of grace. There's no place for them in the Church of Christ.

Posted by rjb at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 2:23am BST

We live in interesting times. Perhaps Aslan is on the move.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 6:03am BST

Tinker's offensive comments are to be expected from a source where no amount of "conversations" will make any difference. Likewise, the usual suspects at REFORM have called for Bishop Alan Wilson to resign in order to close his views down. When will the Archbishops realise you can't converse with bigots?
http://www.scribd.com/doc/269306813/Letter-From-Bishop-Alan-Wilson-25-June-2015#scribd

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 8:08am BST

It's neat trick. You quietly encourage your staff to hurl abuse at people, and certainly don't discipline them when they do. And then you make a vague statement later which doesn't mention it, which can be read by the charitable as being some sort of response, but can be read by the less charitable as offering if not support, at least a blind eye, to the abuse. It's plausible deniability, without needing to offend your own side.

Sentamu could, of course, condemn this sort of abuse in terms. But he won't, because he's perfectly happy to provide the mood music for those with ears attuned to the dog whistle.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 10:17am BST

Talk about semantic circumlocution! No headline writer is going to trawl through all this. They will just conclude that +Sentamu has said it's ok for Melvyn Tinker to say what he has - and that he's left it to others like Viv Faull and David Smith to make affirming noises in the direction of the LGBT community. Just another example of an Evangelical who can't speak to anyone except his own scripturally-familiar constituency. Does he have a media relations person at Bishopthorpe - and more significantly, does he ever take his/her advice?

Posted by James A at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 11:22am BST

James A. said, 'Just another example of an Evangelical who can't speak to anyone except his own scripturally-familiar constituency.'

Oh, for crying out loud! I realize that evangelicals are not very popular around here, but we are far from being the only people in the Anglican churches who don't know how to speak to the unchurched!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 11:53am BST

"But to suggest that the church ought to exclude people known or believed to be guilty of sexual sins is outright heresy."

Although I would qualify this a bit--the church must be safe space for children--rjb makes a generally excellent point.

Of course, excluding sinners is not just heresy. To reserve the church for the pure -- only the pure may approach the altar! -- is self-defeating.

It sets up all sorts of false expectations, hypocrisies, secret sins, and (when the sins become known) inevitable disappointments.

And of course it is wildly unChristlike. Jesus had a thing or two to say to those in his day who thought that purity was the path to God.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 12:02pm BST

There are certain words missing in the Archbishop's Statement about Melvin Tinker. Either "...and I agree with him" or "....and I disagree with him" or "...and I don't know whether I agree with him or not."
Any journalist worth his/her salt will immediately ask those questions. Unfortunately the assumption will be that he agrees with him unless he positively says "I disagree with him." Out of interest does Bishopthorpe have a Press Officer?

Posted by robertellis at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 1:18pm BST

Obviously @ James A touched a sensitive nerve for @Tim Chesterton. But I read +Sentamu's statement as a classic example of hiding behind scriptural obscurantis - certainly as far as the media is concerned. It simply confirms that there is a tacit unwillingness to condemn homophobia going right to the top because the new 'orthodoxy' is that we don't want to upset anyone in the Global South where sexuality is concerned. Shame on +Sentamu for not living up to the statement made on his appointment to York, when he vividly proclaimed that God needs to scrub out our mouths and cleanse the Church from the foul language of hatred and prejudice. How things change...

Posted by Will Richards at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 3:30pm BST

*Any journalist worth his/her salt will immediately ask those questions.*

Why bother? Sentamu has been pretty clear where he stands.

His speech in the Lords against same-sex marriage would have been, with appropriate modification of terms but not sentiment, one of the standard defences of slavery, or at the very least segregation: "The maleness and femaleness of the human race are given to us. It is where we are placed, in common with the whole human race in every generation. Our role is to be thankful for it and to understand how it helps us to live the human lives that we are given". That hardly requires much modification to turn into an antebellum, or Dutch Reform, defence of "God's plan" for the black man and the white man, each knowing his place.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 3:36pm BST

"The maleness and femaleness of the human race are given to us" Archbishop of York quoted by Interested Observer

That speech must have made intersex people feel *really* special.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 5:17pm BST

What gets me is York Minster's involvement in Pride. Knowing the Church of England's position, it's simply irresponsible to invite LGBT people into an institutionally homophobic organization, an organization that condemns homosexuality in no uncertain terms, and does nothing to counter homophobic abuse from its ministers. Safe space it ain't.

If the church isn't going to change (and there's no sign that it will), it needs to have the courage of its convictions, and recommend that any gay person comfortable with their sexuality should, for their own wellbeing, not get involved. I know Anglicans have raised fudge to Trinity status, but being simultaneously affirming and homophobic is a fudge too far.

Some heroic people will join even so, in an effort to change it, but the church needs to make absolutely clear what they're getting into, and how high the odds are stacked against them.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 8:49pm BST

“flaunting the scriptures under the banner of equality”. -- Rev. Tinker

I don't know if Canon Smith intended to flaunt the Scriptures -- or to flout them.
But I'd say Rev. Tinker flaunted his misunderstanding of the Queen's English.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 9:03pm BST

This isn't Tinker's first time at the rodeo so to speak - he seems to have an affinity for generating press coverage by making outrageous statements relating to gay pride in particular. His last media blitz involved "secretly infiltrating" Pride in Jerusalem in 2008 when he was attending the infamous inauguration of GAFCON that year in/around Jordan/Jerusalem. The BBC makes much of his pink clericals (although I would say more fuchsia than pink :) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7476604.stm

Posted by etseq at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 10:45pm BST

The Archbishop's statement has so far attracted no attention at all in the mainstream media. One broadsheet contacted me Monday night for comment, but no article has yet appeared.

Ruth Gledhill has written about it for Christian Today, see
John Sentamu calls for harmony as Church of England rows over sexuality escalate
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/john.sentamu.calls.for.harmony.as.church.of.england.rows.over.sexuality.escalate/56968.htm

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 23 June 2015 at 11:26pm BST

The lack of response to Sentamu's unsurprising: it's the usual official Church of England nonspeak, and the church plays little role in most people's lives. Beyond that, Christians are expected to be homophobic, so for most, it's unremarkable.

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at 12:03am BST

I don't understand most of the comments here. I am not a fan of Sentamu, but here he is clearly defending 'his' cathedral and its senior staff over their response to the Gay Pride do as against the Hull vicar. Progress comes slowly - but this defence is a step within it and we should encourage it, not sneer. Eventually, there will be a tipping-point.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at 8:18am BST

Seems to me that the Church of England needs to make up its mind over this whole contentious issue. It strikes me as play acting (that's what hypocrisy is) if one of its Canons blesses a Gay Pride Parade on the steps of the second most important cathedral in the realm and then officially states that sexual intercourse is only valid between a married man and woman.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at 1:54pm BST

"Seems to me that the Church of England needs to make up its mind over this whole contentious issue."

Father David, the master of understatement! The process will be long and complex and if the debates leading to women priests and women in the episcopate are anything to go by, don't expect a result any time soon. The Shared Conversations are where the process is currently, but there are several concurrent fields of play. The politics of the Anglican Communion need to be taken into account, the very active debate within evangelicalism is key, and ultimately Government. This will take up to 15 years in my view, although some think I am unduly pessimistic. It will take at least two General Synod quinquennia. However, with an eye on the Church of Scotland and, this week, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church meeting in Salt Lake City, there may be more accelerated developments in other churches which will impact the whole process and debate in the Church of England.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at 10:03pm BST

Anthony, as things stand, I believe 15 years is optimistic.

Every English diocesan bishop supports discrimination, and will ensure their replacements, women or men, are of a like mind; affirming clergy and congregations show no willingness to force change through, say by cutting off funds; ordinands tend to be charismatic/open evangelicals, and outside the tiny camp of accepting evangelicals, that constituency's as set against accepting homosexuality as anyone; likewise, growth is in the evangelical wing.

The picture is bleak. But hey, it could all change tomorrow if the right people emerge, and fight. Then, 15 months would be pessimistic.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 1:15am BST

"This will take up to fifteen years in my view, although some think I am unduly pessimistic."
Anthony Archer, the Sommelier of the half full glass.
Financially and ministerially, 2020 seems to be regarded as a make or break year for the Church of England, surely this contentious issue can also be sorted out by then, one way or another by the members of the next, soon to be elected General Synod.
The way things are going it seems likely that the 2015 - 2020 General Synod will be the most liberal of all General Synods since this creature was first brought to birth in 1970. A decision by 2020 would be quite an achievement to mark the Golden Anniversary of the Church's Parliament. Surely, the Facilitated Conversations are not going to drag on for ever and when they draw to a weary conclusion what will be the next stage in the process?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 4:43am BST

Anthony, I hope you're being unduly pessimistic.
The women bishops debate has given us a blueprint for how this could be solved. It will be much easier to tread this path for the second time.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 7:51am BST

I thought that the comment by the Dean of York was 'spot on'

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 10:44am BST

'The women bishops debate has given us a blueprint for how this could be solved.'

Not everyone would see further subdivision of communion - but somehow clinging to the notion that we remain all part of one ecclesia - as a solution.

I sometimes wonder if it will soon be time to recognise the facts on the ground and declare the Church of England a 'wrapper' organisation, to borrow the terminology of the financial services industry. Within the C of E wrapper, various communions could operate, availing themselves of the legal and administrative framework and the buildings, have their own intercommunion arrangements, but adhere to certain basic standards of conduct and doctrine. It might be a way to release surplus buildings to other viable mainstream churches without surrendering title to historic assets, and still be pursuing the historic aim of being a church to the nation.

It comes out of a desire to have arrangements with integrity that do not rely on large dollops of ecclesiological wishful thinking. I know that the idea of the 'already and not yet' should be in the church's DNA, but that should not blind us to the possibility of self-delusion. Surely there's a limit to how many contentions issues you can resolve with 'generous special arrangements'?

Posted by Swithun at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 6:08pm BST

Swithun,
yes, I completely agree. But people didn't vote for the WB provisions out of the goodness of their hearts but because it was the only way of getting a 2/3 majority in all houses at General Synod.

And there is no way that we will get a 2/3 majority for same sex equality in all 3 houses without a similar compromise.

So the choice is to continue as we are or to work towards an agreement.
I've had more than enough of being a second class person in the church and if it takes a compromise to get the church to treat me as a full human being, then so be it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 7:46pm BST

Just as importantly, since they view homosexuality as a "salvation issue," most evangelicals will fight any attempt at setting up "two integrities" with all they have. Which is money, power, will, and the strength to impose it.

Against that stands ... what? "Liberals" who loathe conflict so much they're willing to tolerate institutional homophobia for decades; "moderates" who just want to stop talking about it; and Anglo-Catholics who're happily closeted and don't see why everyone else can't be equally discrete.

Unless the numbers willing to take a stand increase markedly, along with their militancy, barkeep, pour my glass 'til it's half empty.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 8:15pm BST

"Surely there's a limit to how many contentions issues you can resolve with 'generous special arrangements'?"

I understand the house of Bishops is intending to put this assertion to the test, in the interests of research.

Posted by Jo at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 10:17pm BST

James, you write of evangelicals, "they view homosexuality as a "salvation issue"...Against that stands ... what?"

Up to a point, I agree. But when it comes to a low opinion of homosexuals, British evangelicals are only playing at it as compared to American evangelicals. And yet the latter are having to completely rejig their thinking in the fact of the haemorrhaging of their younger generation. Attempts to limit gay rights are failing not just in courts, but in churches and in ballots, and an eight-year democrat presidency supportive of gay rights is going to be replaced by (unless the polls are utterly wrong) another eight-year democrat presidency. The evangelical right will have to choose: ideological purity, or any chance of long-term survival as a force.

Given the UK evangelicals get all their talking points from America, it's bound to affect them here as well. They might realise that rampant homophobia is no longer a winner here, but they will certainly find that the supply of bigotry coming from the west will have dried up.

Posted by Interested Observer at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 11:08pm BST

James,
can I ask, are you still an evangelical attending evangelical churches?
I ask because I have noticed a strong shift in this debate from liberals vs evangelicals to within the evangelical sector.
And opinions aren't by far as unified as they used to be. There is a very lively debate going on with evangelicals firmly on all parts of the spectrum.

The evangelicals I met at the Shared Conversations were far from of one mind. Some were as firm as you suggest, others were happy to accept civil partnerships, others same sex marriage but not for people in leadership positions, others supported full inclusion.
I only met 2 for whom this was a first order issue and a breaking point.

We should be careful not to talk the opposition up and to fear that it has more power than it actually wields.

We had this during the women bishops debate when were were talking largely to committed FiF people who made it sound as if virtually every single Anglo-Catholic church would leave the CoE and there would be blood on the carpet.
What happened was a small trickle to the Ordinariate and the rest agreeing with the provisions negotiated together with them.

"The evangelicals" who oppose same sex marriage, see it as a first order issue and threaten to withhold funds don't exist.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 June 2015 at 9:03am BST

Erika, no, I'm not an evangelical, nor do I regularly attend an evangelical church (I do, however, have several evangelical friends, and comment on evangelical blogs & sites from time to time).

There are, undoubtedly, accepting evangelicals, but they have no real power in the Church of England. Crucial difference between equal ordination and equal treatment of LGBT people is that English diocesan bishops are unanimous in supporting discrimination (whatever personal misgivings they have). By contrast, they supported equal consecration by an overwhelming majority.

They'll keep to this line until a) English evangelicals don't look set to bankrupt the church if homosexuality is affirmed, b) African Anglicans don't look set to split the Communion, or c) they're forced to change.

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 26 June 2015 at 12:40pm BST

I hope that Erika's optimism is correct. I rather doubt it. This issue seems to me to be more fierce in its pursuit, and will sufficiently motivate the international entryists into the Church of England. The idea that there might be agreement to differ in 2020 seems rather over optimistic. And I can't see the Church of England becoming some sort of administration hub, like a Railtrack, for a series of entirely different operating Churches. That's the end to the parish system, really. Perhaps it is an illusion anyway.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 26 June 2015 at 5:52pm BST

I agree with you pluralist. Evangelicals are divided on most issues, but on this they are rock solid. Furthermore they now have guaranteed episcopal representation of the hardest variety.They have enough votes ( along with other conservatives) to veto the issue on Synod.At the end of the day even Archbishops Welby and Sentamu will side with them. In the C in W evangelicals were virtually wiped out at disestablishment, and only revived in the nineteen sixties, but not in any significant manner. SEC is similar, but the C OF I, has the four Northern Irish dioceses to veto any moves there.

Posted by robert ian williams at Saturday, 27 June 2015 at 7:22am BST

RIW,
do spend some time on the Facebook pages of prominent strong anti gay evangelicals and follow the debate and note how many known evangelicals are supportive.

I've spent 10 years campaigning for lgbt equality in the church and in that time, the debate has shifted considerably.
It's still all the same arguments being made, but who makes them has changed.

Church hierarchy is still what it was. But the ground is crumbling away from underneath them.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 June 2015 at 9:34am BST

Melvin Tinker is making the same mistake as most uninformed people whose limited understanding of human sexuality allows them to equate pedophilia with homosexuality. The former is a crime against children. The latter has been removed from the category of criminal behaviour by the world's most enlightened societies.

To ask whether York Minster would welcome a public celebration of pedophilia in the same way that its clergy has welcomed a celebration of the freedom now accorded to homosexuality, is really a sign of prejudice - a refusal to accept what society now considers to be the right of gay people to exist and to celebrate their God-given status as law-abiding fellow citizens. Prejudice is hardly a Gospel charism.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 10:16pm BST
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