Thinking Anglicans

Chicago Consultation responds to Rowan

Press Release: CHICAGO CONSULTATION RESPONDS TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S REFLECTIONS ON GENERAL CONVENTION

CHICAGO, IL., July 28, 2009 — The Chicago Consultation released this statement from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention. Meyers is the Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific:

During General Convention, the Episcopal Church was pleased to welcome many international visitors, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are glad that he felt generously welcomed and are grateful that he experienced first-hand the Episcopal Church’s deep and abiding commitment to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In his statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to the entire Communion, including provinces in parts of the world where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people face serious criminal penalties and even death. We hope and pray that the Archbishop’s strong condemnation of prejudice against GLBT people, and his call to penitence for our inconsistencies on these issues, will embolden Anglicans across the world to stand against hatred and discrimination when they encounter it in their midst.

We also urge all Anglicans, including the Archbishop, to regard the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the body of Christ as nothing less than a Gospel mandate and a requirement of our baptismal vows. To understand this issue as simply one of civil liberties or human rights — to which the Gospel also calls us — does grave injustice to our sisters and brothers in Christ and our fundamental understanding of baptismal theology.

The Archbishop raises important questions about how the Anglican Communion can best structure itself and continue to develop Anglican doctrine. The Episcopal Church has a long, albeit imperfect, history of developing theology and doctrine to support fully including women, people of color, and GLBT people in the life of the church. We can contribute this valuable experience to the Communion, and we look forward to working together with our fellow Anglicans around the globe as we continue discerning God’s call for our common life and mission.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.

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Doug Durgen
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Doug Durgen

I don’t understand why TEC wants to continue in the Anglican Communion? If it believes in its process and decisions for the full inclusion of GLBT, walk apart from the Anglican Communion or join a second level system of membership. That way, it could still have fellowship with those Anglican Churches that support it, but still follow the dictates of its own conscience. Seriously, what’s the problem or issue.

Cynthjia Gilliatt
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Cynthjia Gilliatt

Thanks to the Chicago Consultation for this statement, and especially the reminder about how dangerous it is to be glbt in some parts of the world. The ABC can denounce anti-gay violence ’til he turns blue in the face, but as long as he repeats lies about glbt people [that they ‘choose’ a ‘lifestyle’ or that they have a sexual ‘preference,’] he abets and aids the violence. It is especially egregious that he barely mentions the blatant border crossing – in violation of the Council of Nicea – by bishops from the very countries with the worst record of human… Read more »

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

‘The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin’ Sorry but it is sentences like this that make my blood boil. This is simply dishonest and serves to paint a very unfair picture of opponents Nobody is suggesting that homosexuals are excluded from the church. What is at issue is the sexual licence such people have within the living out of Christian faith. If the agenda of revisionists were simply about inclusion there would be no dissent…but in honesty the… Read more »

toby forward
Guest

Often in the career of politicians a moment arrives when the voters see through them. From this moment on, they lose credibility and usually never regain it. For Rowan Williams, this may be the moment. The measured and gracious response by the Chicago Consultation rightly puts its finger on the sinful character of the exclusion of glbt people from the sacramental life of the Church. I think that should be read as a personal judgement on Rowan Williams. He should consider his position.

Christopher
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Christopher

I do not see monogamous committed couples as sexual license. There is a quite a lot of difference between them, and such conflation of the two makes my blood boil.

Allan K
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Allan K

Maybe someone would point me in the right direction. The Chicago consultation makes frequent reference to ‘baptismal theology’. Just what is this and where might one learn about it? I realize I may be behind the times, but what is special about baptismal theology as opposed to any other kind?
Thanks in advance.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Doug:

TEC wishes to remain part of something it was integral in creating. The Anglican Communion without the Episcopal Church is like a human body missing a limb.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Doug:

TEC wishes to remain part of something it was integral in creating. The Anglican Communion without the Episcopal Church is like a human body missing a limb.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“If the agenda of revisionists were simply about inclusion there would be no dissent…but in honesty the fight is for sexual licence to be granted to those of a homsexual inclination” It’s not about “sexual license.” It’s about all of the sacraments for all the baptized. I hope this was [“sexual license”] a slip of the keyboard of some kind; surely you do not believe that the sacrament of marriage is merely a license for two people to have a sexual relationship? The wording in the BCP [p. 423] states that the union of the two people is “…intended by… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Allan,
The “baptismal theology” to which the statement refers is expressed in the Baptismal Covenant in the baptismal service in the American BCP, the Canadian BAS, and the English Common Worship. The basic idea is that all Christian people, by virtue of our baptism, are members of the Body of Christ and commissioned for ministry to and with one another, using the gifts which God has given us.

Rick+
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Rick+

What we are also saying as GLBT people is we will neither play the continuing role of victim, nor will we be kept outside the door.

Lorenzo
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Lorenzo

Ed, you also have misread what they wrote. They do not suggest that gay people are ‘excluded from the church’ but excluded from the sacramental life of the church. It is simply a fact that, in the present state of affairs and according to Abp Rowan’s reflections, gay people should not be ordained if partnered, are denied the sacrament of marriage (or any similar blessing) and in certain corners even absolution unless they truly consider any sexual activity they may have had to be immoral and worthy of repentance.

By licence (sic) did you mean latitude or freedom?

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

In response to Allan K’s questions, the Baptismal Covenant in the 1979 American BCP (pp. 304-05) follows. It has become fundamental and extraordinarily important in the life of the American Church. The Baptismal Covenant Celebrant: Do you believe in God the Father? People: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God? People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified,… Read more »

WilliamK
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WilliamK

Fr. Ed, you refer to “those of a homosexual inclination.”

Sorry, Father, but I am not someone “of a homosexual inclination.” I HAVE a sexual orientation that is integral to who I am. Or do you think of yourself as someone “of a heterosexual inclination”?

jnwall
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jnwall

Baptismal theology? One presumes this is means the theology of Baptism, which, in the words of the Episcopal Church’s Catechism, is that “Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.” Often, in conversations like the one we are having, reference is made to our promise, as part of the Baptismal Covenant, to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” My understanding is that baptized gay people are asking the people… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

This issue was on the front page of the NY Times — America’s pre-eminent newspaper — today.

Not only is the Anglican Communion important for its international scope and size, but the Episcopal Church remains far more important than its small membership numbers would otherwise merit.

We have never had an established church, of course, but we have almost from the beginning had establishment churches, of which this was the first.

Counterlight
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Counterlight

“but in honesty the fight is for sexual licence to be granted to those of a homosexual inclination.” No it’s not, and to suggest that my same sex household of the last 6 years where the 2 of us have shared everything for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer is simply “license” makes my blood boil. That these thoughtless lies about the lives of people like me get repeated as if they are truth makes my blood boil to a froth. I’m grateful for the Chicago Consultation’s efforts to push back against efforts to turn these pernicious… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

May I inquire of Ed Tomlinson where I should apply to receive my ‘sexual licence’ ?

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

The Chicago Consultation is beautiful – a real object lesson in loving theologically grounded communication.

Cynthia Gilliatt also expresses a beautiful truth.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

I have noticed that there is a good deal of sexual diversity – I would not want to label it ‘licence’– among Anglo-Catholics in general and SSC in particular. I would ahve thought that they would welcome the Chicago Consultation statment -if only in private.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The resolute hot button issue really is about whether queer folks have any practical or ethical goods in their daily lives – work, relationships, the whole kit and kaboodle that makes up daily life in an average western democracy. Our traditional answer – from scriptures, from nearly every single traditional church authority which anybody bothered to ever take seriously – clearly was: No, categorically, No. Never. Ever. Now, even rather strict conservative believers have backed off. They still talk emotionally in negatives about queer folks – as if we still believed that no practical or ethical good by definition existed… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

“Sorry but it is sentences like this that make my blood boil. This is simply dishonest and serves to paint a very unfair picture of opponents Noboody is suggesting that homosexuals are excluded from the church. What is at issue is the sexual licence such people have within the living out of Christian faith. “ What you call sexual license I call using the gospel to encourage LGBT people to live in stable, monogamous relationships. That’s the “license” we desire. So sorry if that makes your blood boil, perhaps if you were in a stable, monogamous relationship you wouldn’t be… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Truth train is a comin.”

That’s worth framing!

Andrew
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Andrew

What will happen if a two-track Anglicanism occurs? Surely the CofE will remain in full communion with TEC and ACC. We have our own ecumenical process, not just in America with Lutherans and other mainstream Protestants, but with many other Anglican and others around the world. We also have many cordial if not “full communion” relationships with other churches. Locally, many Episcopal churches work with others daily. We may not have seats on some Communion bodies, but we will be welcome as we always have been in many places. As long as Canterbury does not allow a competing church in… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

DougD’s question? TEC isn’t interested in walking away from everybody else, probably for several good reasons. One, whether we like it or not, admit it or not – our planet is functionally shrinking. We are less and less distant from one another; and short of a planetary catastrophe that kills earth period, we are all going to be crossing paths with each other, even more frequently. What is learning diversity and tolerance, talking across our differences, about, otherwise? PS. The believers who categorically think they never, ever cross paths with competent, thriving queer folks, are probably quite mistaken and even… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
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Jerry Hannon

Pat O’Neill replied to Doug Durgen’s incredulous question with the following: “TEC wishes to remain part of something it was integral in creating. The Anglican Communion without the Episcopal Church is like a human body missing a limb.” I would suggest that the issue is much more complex than Mr. Durgen would like to imply; the Church of England, itself, will not be of one mind on this matter, and the ABofC hardly speaks for his entire clergy and lay members. There are indeed some Provinces, such as Nigeria and Rwanda and Southern Cone, where the overwhelming majority of bishops… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

The Chicago statement focuses on the points on which TEC and Canterbury agree — but the sticking-point of disagreement is rather glossed over.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

These blog threads provoke my inner kid. I’m rubber and you are glue. Whatever bad names you call me, bounces off me, and sticks on you. But seriously. EdT? Let’s step briefly through key highlights, changed believer thinking about sex. Traditionally, believers focused on sex acts. Observable, concrete. Our view of human nature was externalized; people were (A) what they did, plus (B) how others perceived what they did. (Bruce Malina, Richard Rohrbaugh) Keeping the law meant above all, doing and not doing, and being perceived by the tribe or community to be so, keeping the law from God. Readers… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

What gets to me his the hypocrisy in the Church Catholic. Isn’t +Rowan Cantuar aware of the fact that, in the 1960s, Anglo-Catholic theological schools operated by the CofE were hotbeds of homo-sexuality? If, as intimated by Dean Knisely of AZ, +Rowan is pandering to Papa Ratzinger, his ecumenical parterner, is +Cantuar not aware of the fact that a large percentage of RC priests/bishops today are gay men, most of whom are still “in the closet”? Living a lie is a virtue for +Rowan Cantuar?

Allan K
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Allan K

Jim Pratt, Dr.Primrose and Jnwall, and all,

Thank you for responding to my question about Baptismal Theology. That is very helpful. It may be interesting to note that those of us Baptized before the current US PB version (79) did not make any such undertakings as part of their Baptism.

I wonder about the wisdom of making something promised by one’s sponsors quite so central to the theological enterprise, as many baptisands do not in point of fact make any promises at all.

The point about seeking justice and dignity for all remains a very worthwhile undertaking.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The Anglican Communion without the Episcopal Church is like a human body missing a limb.” – Posted by Pat O’Neill

Or its heart (AND brain!)

[NB to EdT: not “sexual license” but MARRIAGE license (and blessing, too!)]

drewmtl
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drewmtl

Re: Baptismal Covenant US BCP, and Cnd BAS p. 179: Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? People: I will, with God’s help. CofE ‘Common Worship’ p. 73 Here or at the beginning of the Sending Out, a minister may say to the newly baptized who are able to answer for themselves Those who are baptized are called to worship and serve God. … Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society, by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak, and by seeking peace… Read more »

toujoursdan
Guest

Ed has it backwards. This has nothing to do with sexual license or sexual activity. The church has always looked the other way as long as gay and lesbians did it in the dark with curtains drawn, the lights out and felt somewhat guilty about it after. Heck, you can become a King or a Bishop as long as you keep the facade up. But as soon as you self-identify as gay or lesbian, whether you are actually having sex or not or even intend to, all hell breaks loose. That’s the sin for people like Ed. I spent many… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

The question is, how long should TEC keep helping to whitewash the sepulchre that the AC has become. By staying in the AC, we are empowering injustice – we are directly contributing, financially, emotionally, and spiritually, to nonsense like Williams’ and wilful ignorance that speaks of “chosen lifestyles” and “homosexual inclination.”

The Anglican Communion should be left to bury itself.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Allan K:

Have you attended a baptism at your parish since 1979? If so, you have been asked (and presumably answered) those questions.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Allan K:

Have you attended a baptism at your parish since 1979? If so, you have been asked (and presumably answered) those questions.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“Thank you for responding to my question about Baptismal Theology. That is very helpful. It may be interesting to note that those of us Baptized before the current US PB version (79) did not make any such undertakings as part of their Baptism”

I was baptized with the form in the 1928 BCP. However, all present join with the sponsors and persons to be baptized in the creed and promises.
So those are part of MY baptismal covenant.

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

Allan K, “It may be interesting to note that those of us Baptized before the current US PB version (79) did not make any such undertakings as part of their Baptism.” True, but many will have affirmed the same covenant at their confirmation, and everyone present at a celebration of baptism makes a reaffirmation of their baptismal covenant using those words. The baptismal covenant isn’t just a set of promises made by one’s parents or sponsors long ago. It is something that continues to grow as we grow into it. A very important point not to be missed here is… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“those of us Baptized before the current US PB version (79) did not make any such undertakings as part of their Baptism.” This is a thing for me too. It appears to change the theology of baptism from acceptance of the gospel and prayers that the candidate may receive “that which by nature they cannot have” into something that seems to skirt the entire issue of redemption. The traditional rite saw membership in the Kingdom as something granted to us by God and for which we ought to be grateful. I see no problem with that. The current rite, and… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I am at a loss for words. Both regarding Cantuar and Ed Tomlinson (and the link about “the theology” behind the anti women stand isn’t bad either ;=)

sarcasm intended; I have asked for such a one several times on these boards and never got anything but guilty silence…

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“…in honesty the fight is for sexual licence to be granted to those of a homosexual inclination.” Ed, how can you possibly say that this statement is made “in honesty”? Anglicans have been asked by three successive Lambeth Conferences to listen to gay people. Not to be swayed, not to be anything other than simple Christians listening to the experiences, the hurts, the joys, the lives of other human beings made in the image and likeness of God just like you were. You clearly have not done that, if you seriously believe that seeking to be kind to life long… Read more »

William
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William

re: Allan K’s observation “I wonder about the wisdom of making something promised by one’s sponsors quite so central to the theological enterprise, as many baptisands do not in point of fact make any promises at all.” If one is even marginally faithful with attendance at regular Sunday worship in TEC, the BCP liturgy provides frequent opportunity to re-affirm those baptismal vows at various points during the church year and grow into a more mature understanding of them. One may be baptized only once, but one never stops hearing about it… and hearing about it… and hearing about it…, liturgically… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“But surely we can acknowledge our fallibility, sinfulness, and need for grace without the traditional self-abasement that often contained a not too subtle strain of masochism, can’t we?”

I’m not familiar with the form of baptism used in Canada, but when we respond to the questions, “Will you….?” Our response very clearly acknowledges our need for grace, because each affirmation is, “I will, with God’s help.”

And indeed, every good thing we do, we do with God’s help.

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

I am genuinely bemused as to the anger and hostility which my post has drawn out. Having read and re-read my post it is not abusive to gay people in any way. It merely points out that there is a difference between accepting homosexual people whilst adhering to the traditional Christian teaching that sex is for marriage only – and suggesting that to accept homosexuals must include allowing them sexual relationships. Is that so awful a distinction to highlight- surely it goes to the heart of the issues? Seems to have hit a raw nerve though! Hence the incredibly harsh… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

A couple of further points to make about the Baptismal Covenant as we use it in the Episcopal Church: it has been noted that that it is reaffirmed by almost every person who has attended a baptism since 1976 (when the 1979 Prayer Book was approved on first reading in General Convention, and officially in trial use). However, we also need to note that it has been reaffirmed at almost every Easter Eucharist in that same time. It is certainly incorporated into the Easter Vigil liturgy, and is encouraged in the rubrics for Easter Day celebrations. So, as opposed to… Read more »

Allan K
Guest
Allan K

Many thanks to Ford Elms and Nom de Plume who have raised some issues which I think need further discussion. (1) Is it appropriate for a national church to change the theology of the service of Baptism by introducing a ‘Baptismal Covenant’, even if the change is a good one, without making the entire church aware of the change in intention? In such important matters of theology, ought we not all to be on or near the same page? Should there not have been some conversations on changing the theology surrounding Baptism to include a ‘Covenant theology’? Especially if you… Read more »

Canon David
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Canon David

++Rowan back in 2000, when ABp of Wales, wrote in his book ‘Christ on Trial’ (p85), “I long for the Church to be more truly itself, and for me this includes changing its stance on war, sex, investment, and many other difficult matters… Yet I must also learn to live in and attend to the reality of the Church as it is . . . and to work at my relations now with the people who will not listen to me or those like me – because what God asks of me is not to live in the ideal future… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Allan K, I don’t quite understand your question about a “theological change” that was “slipped in.” First, taken in context of the full rite, the Baptismal Covenant doesn’t itself represent a lot of theological change. It seems to me that was seen in other, more functional ways, such as seeing all the baptized as full members of the Body of Christ, allowing for communion of infants or changing the understanding of Confirmation. And those changes, while new to Episcopalians, perhaps, were hardly new, as they are consistent with Orthodox Christian practice for centuries. Second, this was hardly “slipped in.” The… Read more »

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

“Is it appropriate for a national church to change the theology of the service of Baptism by introducing a ‘Baptismal Covenant’, even if the change is a good one, without making the entire church aware of the change in intention?” – Allen K. A good question. Having been an assistant to the TEC bishop who chaired the Standing Liturgical Commission that drafted the 1976/1979 BCP, I have some backround information that expressed the the “mind of the Church” re. “social justice issues” related to the Baptismal Covenant. Two documents that come to mind were the Lambeth 1958 guidelines for Prayer… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

The primary characteristics – namely race, gender and sexual orientation – are indivisible when forming any coherent anti-discrimination policies by Church or State, reiterated here by the Chicago Consultation. Williams’ argument that “if society changes its attitudes, that change does not of itself count as a reason for the Church to change its discipline” should be compared with the Civil Rights movement, a parallel one to the one commencing with the Stonewall riots exactly 40 years ago. There are dangers for the Church of England in leading the ‘track’ of this bi-Communion defined by its opposition to the partnerships and… Read more »