Updated Sunday evening
Martin Beckford of the Telegraph has spent the week in Jamaica with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.
In Saturday’s Telegraph he has two articles:
…While the focus has often been on the introduction of homosexual and female clergy, Dr Sentamu is aware that the Church must do more to avoid its leadership being solely white and middle class.
“I used to chair the committee for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, and we seemed to be making some progress but that now seems to be going backwards. Where we have lost out is black people who had been realised Anglicans, who are now joining Pentecostal churches. That’s a huge drain.”
He said white working-class parishioners were also poorly represented in the Church’s leadership, often being relegated to making tea after services, and highlighted support groups for single mothers and replacing theological books with audio versions as ways to help disadvantaged groups.
“The Church should be a sign of the kingdom of heaven and should be telling us what it will look like. Heaven is not going to be full of just black people, just working-class people, just middle-class people, it’s going to be, in the words of Desmond Tutu, a rainbow people of God in all its diversity.”
NB This article now also includes a video interview. Watching it is recommended.
…But the Archbishop says it is not the role of the state to redefine marriage, threatening a new row between the Church and state just days after bishops in the House of Lords led a successful rebellion over plans to cap benefits.
“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.
“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.
“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”
Earlier this week, Lynne Featherstone (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Equalities Office) answered this question in parliament on the subject:
(1) what recent discussions she has had with (a) the Church of England and (b) other church groups on same sex marriages in church;
(2) what representations she has received from the Church of England on same sex marriages in church.
The Government will publish a formal consultation on equal civil marriage in March 2012. I have met with a wide range of organisations ahead of this consultation including with representatives from the following church organisations: Church of England, Catholic Church, the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Institute, Quakers and Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. Discussions have been held and are ongoing with other organisations including those representing other faith groups, non-religious groups and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
This consultation will not propose any changes to religious marriage. Same-sex couples will not be able, under these proposals, to have a marriage through a religious ceremony on religious premises.
Rosalind English has written this at UK Human Rights Blog: Archbishop on warpath.
Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has thrown a firecracker into the consultation on gay marriage, which is about to begin in March. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he declared that he did not agree that it was the role of the state to define what marriage is. ”It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are”.