Thinking Anglicans

Guardian coverage of Permanent, Faithful, Stable

The Guardian has published a precis of the new Preface to Permanent, Faithful, Stable in Wednesday’s newspaper in the Comment section. You can read it online here: Under Rowan Williams, the church has failed gay people.

Lizzy Davies has written a news story to accompany this, which is also in Wednesday’s newspaper on page 2: Anglican stance on same-sex marriage ‘morally contemptible’, says gay cleric.

She concludes her article thus:

…Condemning the leadership of the Church of England for apparently prioritising the unity of the worldwide Anglican communion over gay rights, John adds: “This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible. Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

In the postscript, John denounces the church for “sanctioning” liberal wings of the communion while capitulating to vehemently homophobic churches. “This is morality turned upside down; and the inevitable result is that people of goodwill with a concern for justice and truth turn away from the Church in disgust,” he writes.

“Almost as long as it has existed, the Church has been directly responsible for evils and injustices committed against gay people, and it is responsible for them still. Appalling atrocities have been perpetrated on homosexuals by the Church, or in the name of the Church, or as in Nazi Germany, with the tacit connivance of the Church. Yet there is still not a glimmer of repentance; rather the opposite – an arrogant restatement of ‘traditional’ exclusion and contempt.”

A Church of England spokesman said: “These are very strong personal opinions that Jeffrey John has expounded before.” The Church was far more inclusive than they made it seem, as testified to by the fact that John, an openly gay man, occupied a senior position in it, he added.

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Richard Kirker
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The situation is even more repugnant than described by Jeffrey John. a) His position in the Church is unassailable because he has renounced a sexually active life, and b) Church House spokesmen continually dissemble by not acknowledging that the official policy is to deny self-affirming gay people a safe place in the Church. To understand the true nature of the CoE merely ask yourself why it sought and gained exemptions from all equality legislation. Not to have gained this most dubious distinction would have obliged itself to banish homophobia.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

What Richard Kirker said.

Robert Ellis
Guest
Robert Ellis

Until more and more of us are prepared to stand up and be counted the present hypocrisy will continue. Civil disobedience has an honourable tradition as indeed does ecclesiastical disobedience……so come on folks lets stand up and say openly and honestly that we are already conducting Gay Blessing Ceremonies and intend to continue doing so…..so get over it! Perhaps we need a proper register of those clergy who are prepared to offer such ceremonies….a job for Inclusive Church perhaps? In fact I would even take the job on myself, now that I am retired, if anyone is interested.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Good thinking. The other thing that is needed is some kind of disobedience around ‘certain assurances’. Those are questions which should not be asked or answered and there needs to be some kind of protest which cannot cannot be left to gay clergy who would be far too vulnerable. No clergy should be left giving any kind of assurance their is a celibate relationship, whether it is or not. It is not in any way appropriate, not only because it is obscenely intrusive, and ends up with us hearing things about John and others that I neither wish nor need… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

Robert, I too am retired , and enjoying my God given partner. I agree with every word you write, and it is our generation that must support our gay brothers and sisters in active ministry today. We have lived our ministry with a church that speaks with a double edge tongue. How many times have we heard the public pronouncements that are so different to what the ABC believes. But also we have been hurt and wounded by the homophobs in ministry in our church. So yes let those of us who are retired be prepared to support our brothers… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

‘A Church of England spokesman said: “These are very strong personal opinions that Jeffrey John has expounded before.” The Church was far more inclusive than they made it seem, as testified to by the fact that John, an openly gay man, occupied a senior position in it, he added.’

Good Lord, hasn’t this unnamed spokesman ever heard of tokenism? Doesn’t he remember that John’s nomination to the episcopate was sabatoged precisely because of his sexuality?

Feria
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Feria

Dear Robert,

I think many (perhaps most) of the civil partnership blessings that take place in the Church of England do so without involving any disobedience – they simply happen outside the pastoral jurisdiction of the bishops, e.g. in the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, or satellite churches of St. Peter’s Westminster, where there is no prohibition to disobey.

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

I agree with the comments above- Lord how long!

I once led the Prayers at civil partnership service in a wonderful marquee with blue silk hangings attached to a village hall with a bar and refeshments and decorated with wonderful flowers- a kind of Garden of Eden!

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

“A Church of England spokesman said.” Could someone explain to us non-British folks what this is understood to mean to British newspaper readers, along with some comments on British journalistic practice for quoting anonymous sources? On the face of it, at least to this American, this is so vague that it could mean anyone ranging from the Archbishop of Canterbury to a retired incumbent now living in the Lake District or anyone ranging from a person actually authorized to speak for the Church of England as an entity to someone on the margins authorized to speak for no one except… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

“A Church of England spokesman said.”

I would understand this to mean someone put up by Church House. Probably an official, a church civil servant. Not an anonymous, off the record, comment, but a statement from a press officer, someone not important in themselves but authorized to speak.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

If a statement is made by some person who is anonymous, it would read ‘who did not wish to be named’. As in ‘a high-ranking official who did not wish to be named said that …’

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Think “White House spokesperson”. Everybody understands, even without watching The West Wing, that the phrase means somebody, from the White House press office, either the Press Secretary or a deputy, who is formally authorised to speak on behalf of the White House, and who will therefore be expressing official White House policy on whatever the topic it is. So in the Church of England more or less, this phrase means somebody authorised by the Communications Office at Church House, Westminster, to speak on behalf of… http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/communications-office.aspx Incidentally, there is a new Director now in post for that Office. He’s been… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

“A Church of England spokesman said.”

A staffer from the Church House Press Office. Could be senior, could be very junior. In this context, I would think senior.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

Does Church House usually issue official statements on behalf the Church of England condemning books written by “senior official[s],” deans, bishops, or academics that Church House disagrees with?

This sounds rather like the Holy Office issuing its official list of condemned books. What’s next? House arrest for writing books suggesting the earth goes around the sun?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The Guardian article depicts quite squarely the dilemma currently being played out in the Church of England. If only the Church of England had been willing to recognise the integrity of Same-Sex Civil Partnerships, there may not have been the call – from both Gays and the broader population – for the institution of Marriage for monogamous Same-Sex couples. The Church has only itself to blame for this particular chicken coming home to roost. However, with most peoples’ understanding of the co-habitation of Same-Sex couples who want to bear witness to their relationship publicly, as akin to that of heterosexual… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I have a question:

Under UK law, are civil unions treated as identical to marriage for purposes of taxes, inheritance, hospital visitations, etc.? Part of the reason for the push for marriage equality in the US–even in those states that have recognized civil partnerships–is that federal law treats all of the things I noted (and many others) differently for married couples than for non-married ones.

Peter O
Guest

Dr Primrose wrote: Does Church House usually issue official statements on behalf the Church of England condemning books written by “senior official[s],” deans, bishops, or academics that Church House disagrees with? Really? Is that what happened? Here’s the quote from Church House: ‘A Church of England spokesman said: “These are very strong personal opinions that Jeffrey John has expounded before.” The Church was far more inclusive than they made it seem, as testified to by the fact that John, an openly gay man, occupied a senior position in it, he added.’ Condemnation? Perhaps I’m missing something, but where’s the condemnation?… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

@Pat – yes, CPs are legally identical to marriage in all 4 UK jurisdictions. Scotland and Northern Ireland make their own laws on marriage. Which means the Scots will be a few years ahead of the UK curve on marriage equality and over here, we’ll be some way behind…

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Gerry Lynch wrote “@Pat – yes, CPs are legally identical to marriage in all 4 UK jurisdictions.”

I am not sure this is correct. There are some differences.

Firstly, the law specifically prohibits CPs from being celebrated in a religious manner, whereas marriages can have religious content. (You can’t even use religious text and content in a registry office CP).

Secondly, and quite importantly, CPs are not transportable, and so partners within a CP will not be recognised as married if the partners travel abroad, even within those countries which have legalised gay marriage within their own borders.

Simon

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“CPs are not transportable, and so partners within a CP will not be recognised as married if the partners travel abroad, even within those countries which have legalised gay marriage within their own borders.

– Simon Dawson –

All the more reason then why Same-Sex Marriage should be granted to those in a Civil Partnership who wish to travel abroad as a couple. This would be only just and right – another reason the Church should not militate against Same-Sex Marriage.

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

Simon,

You can’t use any religious content at all in a civil marriage, though, (not even overtly religious poetry or recorded music), and it is to those (legally speaking) that civil partnership ceremonies are comparable, as I understand it.