Thinking Anglicans

White Collar Crime?

Updated Monday evening

The Church of St-Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand published this petition on its website: Petition to the Anglican Bishops of New Zealand. The heading reads:

Stop White Collar Crime – Ask NZ bishops to end their discrimination against gays and lesbians

Following an explanation of the specific NZ circumstances, it says:

We respectfully ask the bishops of the Anglican Church in New Zealand to be true to the values of the Gospel and end the discriminatory practices that prevent the selection and ordination of gays and lesbians who are in committed relationships.

Bishop Philip Richardson, Bishop in Taranaki then wrote this response: White collar crime?

And the anglicantaonga website also published a news article about the exchange, Bishop refutes “white collar crime”.

A new petition urging bishops to end their “discrimination” against gays and lesbians misunderstands both church law and the power of bishops to change church doctrine.

That’s the view of Bishop Philip Richardson, who has released a public response to the “Stop White Collar Crime ” petition being driven by Auckland’s St-Matthew-in-the-City…

Both Kiwianglo’s Blog and Anglican Down Under have drawn attention to this. Both seem to think this dialogue is a good development. Scroll down here to see Ron Smith’s comments. Peter Carrell has identified the following key passage from Bishop Richardson’s response:

I believe that General Synod needs to reach an agreed position on these three inter-related issues, in the following order:

First , whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity. This in itself requires the process of collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate which we are engaged in.

Depending on our collective answer to the first question, the church might then be in a position to move to the development of a formulary for the blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, relationships other than marriage.

It is worth making the point that as bishops of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki we have suspended the licenses of heterosexual ministers living in relationships other than marriage (for example, in civil unions) for exactly the reason that there is no agreed position in this church on the status of committed relationships other than marriage.

Thirdly, the church could agree that such relationships so blessed and formally recognised by the church meet the standards of holiness of life that is the call on every Christian life, and is required to be reflected in the lives of those called by God and affirmed by the church to holy orders.

Update
Bosco Peters has written a response to this: Gay Ordinations Invalid?

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RJBDavid ShepherdRosemary HannahFather Ron SmithSpirit of Vatican II Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

I, for one, would REFUSE to participate in such a *debate* (as proposed by Peter Carrell) unless an item for the Synod is “sexual orientation towards those of the *other* gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity”!

I am not an OBJECT.

I—IN and THROUGH my queerness—am *Imago Dei*!

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

I have to say I found this bishop’s statement thoroughly nauseating. First the compulsive way he hides under the skirts of the law, in various modes, is unmanly. Second the way he talks of human beings as if recognizing their dignity or right was something we Marie Antoinette bishops may get around to in our good time, is unchristian. Yet I am forced to admit that no Roman Catholic bishop has said anything better. Are all bishops a combination of (a) a spineless puppet; (b) a polls-watching opportunist; (c) a nouvel aristocrate dripping with assumptions of superiority?

Father Ron Smith
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JCF, having participated in this argument through my web-site ‘kiwianglo’, I must say that I heartily agree with your sentiments here. Knowing Bishop Philip personally, I am quite sure his heart is in the right place – for both women and gays in the Church. His difficulty, in answering the challenge of St.Matthews-in-the-City is that, as one of the younger Bishops in ACANZP, he feels the need for all of the Bishops in our Church to openly debate the whole issue of the LGBT community. It would seem that this is something which, so far, they have not been keen… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
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How much of ‘fallen’ humanity’s ‘sinfulness’ is actually ‘wilful’. We would generally agree that ‘theft is wrong’ but I was at school with a girl whose compulsive taking of the property of her fellows was a reaction to deep-seated inner turmoil and unhappiness. Part of the problem here is an antiquated view of how humans work. There are a mass of problems, which are not in origin Biblical problems. the Bible does not ask: ‘did humans cause this, or did God?’ as a way of establishing right from wrong. The Bible asks: ‘What is the fruit of this?’ and it… Read more »

David Shepherd
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‘This in itself requires the process of collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate’

‘Depending on our collective answer to the first question, the church might then be in a position to move to the development of a formulary for the blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, relationships other than marriage.’

Yet, the more obtuse the liberal response towards any debate/dialogue of this kind, the lower the likelihood of change.

Great! That’s the best gambit strategy that I’ve heard this year!

RJB
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RJB

Philip Richardson is a good man and a popular bishop (despite his somewhat disconcerting resemblance to a young NT Wright). I appreciate his very Anglican appeal for decency and order, and I think he subtly makes it clear what he thinks the eventual outcome of any final consensus in the province of ANZP is likely to be. He admits the seriousness of the possibility that Church rules may effectively be denying the activity of the Holy Spirit in calling men and women to ordination. And he is quite right, I think, to say that the Church is required to “do… Read more »