Anglo-catholics affirm dignity of difference
Members of Affirming Catholicism made a series of influential contributions to the Church of England General Synod this week, helping the body move in a more progressive direction without alienating conservative sensitivities.
In an agenda which included key debates on the replacement of Trident (the UK nuclear deterrent), lesbian and gay Christians and criminal justice, speakers prompted Synod to consider the plight of those who were marginalised in the Church or society.
Mr John Ward, a lay member of Synod, spoke movingly on the place of lesbian and gay people in the Church during a debate sparked by a motion from fellow Affirming Catholic, the Rev’d Mary Gilbert. His speech, which focussed on his own experience as a gay Christian in the Church, received sustained applause from Synod members who eventually passed an amended motion affirming the integrity of divergent views on the issue in the Church, and committing the Church to keep dialogue going.
Speaking of the debate, Mr Ward said:
Being an Anglican means learning to live respectfully with difference. I feel encouraged by the affirmation many have given to me as a gay man this week, and I am hopeful that continued gracious dialogue will allow Church members ultimately to reconcile their differences.
In a debate on the criminal justice system Synod members backed a report urging the Government to invest more resources in preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders, many of whom suffer from social disadvantage or mental health problems. Mary Johnston, a lay member of Synod and a Trustee of Affirming Catholicism, spoke of her own recent experience as a victim of crime and called on the Church to consider especially the terrible impact of violent crime for the families and friends of both victims and offenders.
Summing up the week, the Rev’d Jonathan Clark, acting Chair of Affirming Catholics in Synod, said:
A Catholic vision of the gospel emphasises the dignity of humanity. I’m delighted that Affirming Catholics have played an important part in helping Synod reconcile its own differences as well as focus on the need to welcome and support those whom society has traditionally excluded.