Thinking Anglicans

Church must be 'safe place' says Rowan Williams

Lambeth Palace press release

Archbishop – Church must be ‘safe place’ for gay and lesbian people

Wednesday 28th March 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that the churches of the Anglican Communion must be safe places for gay and lesbian people. His comments come in a welcome to an interim report on the Anglican Communion’s Listening Process, a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Dr Williams warns that the challenge to create the safe space for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected is based on a fundamental commitment of the Communion.

“ The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.

“ No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.”
In his statement, Dr Williams paid tribute to the work of Canon Phil Groves and the team at the Anglican Communion Office involved in coordinating the Listening Process. The interim report, comprising summaries of the Communion’s 38 Provinces’ progress on the issue, has been posted on the Anglican Communion website and can be found at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/42/50/acns4270.cfm

The full statement follows.

“ I am profoundly grateful to Canon Phil Groves and all at the Anglican Communion Office who have worked so hard to produce this preliminary account of what the Communion has done to honour its commitment at Lambeth 1998 to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people. It is a commitment that has been repeated many times but it has not proved easy to set up an appropriate process that will involve the whole Anglican family.

“ The sensitivities of this exercise are obvious. Social, cultural and legal contexts are very varied indeed. And in the present climate of the Anglican Communion, there is inevitably a suspicion either that this is just window-dressing, or that it is a covert programme for changing doctrine and discipline. Real – and mutual – listening is hard to achieve. There are contexts where it is difficult to find a safe place for gay and lesbian people to speak about their lives openly. There are contexts where people assume the debate is over. The report shows that listening is possible, but also that there is a great deal still to be done. The work continues, but we have a solid start here.

“ The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.

“ No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.

“ I welcome this document as a valuable first stage in our collective response to the challenge that the last Lambeth Conference put before us, and I hope that it will be part of the ‘deep and dispassionate’ study of issues in sexual ethics for which an earlier Lambeth Conference called.”

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Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
13 years ago

It is usual two have two different guys in the roles of ‘good cop, bad cop’ — not one cop changing masks and scripts back and forth.

What is this load of BS ?! Why toy with people’s sensibilities ? I would prefer Akinola-style offensive-honesty to this pussy-footing-god-knows -what offensive patronsing crap …….

Don’t f—— insult our commonsense like this —please………

badman
badman
13 years ago

Still no reference to the Church of Nigeria, despite its support for the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill which has been condemned by Nigeria and African human rights organisations, Amnesty International, the European Union, the US State Department, etc etc as a breach of fundamental human rights. This is odd, because the very first Lambeth Conference resolution of 1998, Lambeth 1.1, says:- “Affirmation and Adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights On the fiftieth anniversary of its proclamation in December of 1948, this Conference (a) resolves that its members urge compliance with the United Nations Universal Declaration… Read more »

NP
NP
13 years ago

I agree with the ABC
(safety, respect – of course)

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Finally!!

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
13 years ago

Dear ABC, Thank you for your statement regarding the “safe place” our Communion must be for LGBT Episcopalians/Anglicans and fellow Christians of all denominations. You’re getting warm but not quite “there” yet when ignoring the and BLATANT ugly and threatening and most of all DANGEROUS voices of +Akinola/Nigeria (author of “Hooligan Children of LGBT people”) and +Orombi/Uganda (I noticed he turned his “righteous opinions” down a notch but that still doesn’t mean he didn’t/doesn’t torment former Integrity Uganda members and their retired Bishop counselor/shepard) and then there is the back-up U.S. “Network” lynch mob represented by such voices as Fr.… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Wow thanks, Canterbury. But, are you really, really, really, really sure about this statement? Eternal hellfire is not a safe place where the human dignity of people who are not straight is a foundation of trust and respect. I thought scripture already told us all that we needed to know? You know, God’s closed and complete revelation to us about matters sexual? Given what is happening in Nigeria and the other places you mention, we were indeed wondering where Anglicans really stood. So what are the top four recommends you offer us, that would in Canterbury’s considered opinion help make… Read more »

matthew hunt
matthew hunt
13 years ago

Is that it? “respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people” Now, I know that the whole statement is very important. This is what Canterbury (I use the term because I believe from my lay, remote, ignorant perspective that there is a bundle of people in ‘Canterbury’ that is a complex dynamic, not just ickle ol’ Rowan. But, it may be good message, as much as they could muster, to try to prevent homophobes in Africa arresting, torturing, imprisoning, killing people just because they advocate for the rights of people who find themselves to be of same sex attraction. It… Read more »

zefrog
13 years ago

Alleluia!
(and in’sh’Allah, too)

;O)

Robert Leduc
Robert Leduc
13 years ago

At last! Now we have to make sure the statement – what is the phrase the conservatives love so? – ah yes, make sure the statement “has some teeth in it”.

jimB
jimB
13 years ago

The archbishop simply cannot find it in himself to admit the evil done by Nigeria and its arch-persecutor. blaming hate crimes on the West while ignoring their codification in the South is incredible.

And this is the community leader to whom the House of Bishops wants us to be attached? The “fast” we should undertake is no participation, and no funding of anything until the next GC. Time to name the evil and shake the dust.

FWIW
jimB

ettu
ettu
13 years ago

Talking and thinking are critical but of no lasting value without action – I have the decided impression that RW is 99% the dilettantish talker and will delay the 1% in him that wishes to act for as long as he possibly can – well, at least he should be able to write a few papers or even a book about actions that he might have taken but, for whatever reason, never quite got around to “actualizing”. The priorities of different cultures are part of the difficulty of engaging in full discussion.

Malcolm French+
Malcolm French+
13 years ago

Rowan used to write insightful and challenging books and articles.

Now he writes pablum.

The Church’s loss, certainly.

But Rowan’s loss mostly.

Steven
Steven
13 years ago

Hmmm. One little word makes all the difference–“proper”. Now, one may ask themselves, “Just what is a PROPER liberty?” Is the ABC’s definition of “PROPER” the same as the LBGT definition of “PROPER”? You can bet the LBGT definition of “PROPER liberty” is not the same as Bob Duncan’s definition of what’s “PROPER liberty”. Now, the question is, as usual, “What does Rowan mean by ‘PROPER’?” Is his “PROPER” the same as an LBGT “PROPER” or a Bob Duncan “Proper” or ???? I’d say it’s not safe to assume too much here. And, Rowan (as usual), is expert at keeping… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

He only has to resign to make it a safer place.

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
13 years ago

Dear ABC,

Please note the attached link to a Church that is MORE than just a “safe place” for LGBT Christians and you won’t believe it but it’s right down the street from Presiding Bishop Venables bunker in Buenos Aires:

http://actualidadgay.blogspot.com/2007/01/la-primera-boda-religiosa-de-dos.html

Cheryl Clough
13 years ago

Matthew Ezekiel 18:4 Every living soul belongs to God. Deuteronomy 5:14-15 The covenant of the Sabbath covers all humanity and even the beasts in the field. It also alludes to keeping the Sabbath as a way of remembering that God brought us out of slavery from Egypt. You are covered by God’s grace, no matter if you are male or female, young or old, perfect or afflicted, of the elite or an outcaste. It is humans that deny others’ access to Zion, but Zion seeks out and finds all her children. Unlike Edom, Zion understands the concept of hospitality and… Read more »

thomas bushnell, bsg
13 years ago

but of course, the CofE must fight tooth and nail against any legislation designed to make Britain a safe place. uh huh.

Pluralist
13 years ago

What are proper liberties? What are improper liberties then? Is the safe place dependent on interpretation of proper liberties.

The trouble with underhand nuanced language is that it gives those being half-criticised every get out they need.

I’d like to see some proper language.

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
13 years ago

Thanks Leonardo –that sites looks great !

Wish I had some Spanish ! Even without it the aliveness and vibrancy comes through ! …

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
13 years ago

Leonardo – thanks for the link.

Deeply tickled I am that the pair chose the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for their nuptials!

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
13 years ago

Thanks for the translation Erika !

I was moved by their deep love for each other.
How marvellous that they came from the Jewish and Christians respectively, and that this was reflected in their ceremony and celebration.

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