Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 October 2021

Church Times The accused have their rights, too
“Remedying past failures should not mean repenting at others’ expense, says Peter Selby

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church of England and failures in the administration of justice

Church Times Campaign for equality in C of E is not yet over
“Being ordained deacon prompts Christina Rees to reflect on how women clergy are still perceived differently from men”

Martyn Percy Modern Church Churches and Cultural Climate-Change Denial (Part Three): Forecasting and Futurescape

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News General Synod: The Importance of Compromise & Conscience

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
38 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Helen King
Helen King
1 month ago

Christina’s comment, “That vote taught me that expediency must never be allowed to trump good theology or coherent ecclesiology”, sends shivers up my spine.

Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Charlie sums up what I believe to be the only way forward out of this 50 year logjam. Conscience is key. You cannot impose one group’s conscience on another group’s. That is the present status quo: gay and lesbian people are (officially) supposed to remain celibate all their lives. That domination of conscience is no longer pastorally sustainable. Unless the Church of England wants to drive schism, it needs to ‘allow’ individual priests, PCCs, and local churches to exercise what they in sincere conscience believe. Unity is not the same thing as imposed uniformity. (That was the remit of the… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I agree, Susannah. Tolerating diffences of opinion and practice must also extend to those who believe the ordination of women as bishops and priests is impossible.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

Correct

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Local churches should be allowed to exercise what they believe. But there is no such thing. If every parish contains differing opinions then how can it possibly be said that a church has a belief?

Susannah Clark
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

Every parish DOES contain differing opinions. The Church of England has MANY and diverse beliefs on human sexuality: pretty much right down the middle. It’s time that was respected on a parish by parish basis. For example, if your concept of ‘Church’ is an imposed uniformity, then yes, the Church believes all gay and lesbian people should remain celibate all their lives. But, see, that’s not actually, on the ground, what the Church ‘believes’. Different church communities have different views. And they are ALL ‘the Church’. The Bishops need to recognise and acknowledge and allow the diverse views to be… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I think I was not clear. What I meant to say is that there are different views within each parish. It is not the case that everybody on one side of the main road (St Andrew’s parish) thinks one thing, and everybody on the other side (St Barnabus) thinks the opposite. Since there are differing views within each parish, how can it be said that the parish has a view. If 51% of the inhabitants of St Cecilia’s parish oppose same sex marriage, for example, what happens to the other 49%. Can they continue to be in favour of it,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

To be honest and fair in discourse with you T Pott (I’m sorry if I sound formal, but I don’t know your first name)… the point you have raised is a good point. On ‘who should decide’, I believe a local church community in a parish should always be allowed to decide. To me it makes sense for elected representatives of that parish to decide and determine the values they want put in practice for their church community. I have tried to include my thoughts on the internal division in a local church in my response to Jo B (below).… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

So presumably you support evangelicals and others providing and promoting conversion therapies to change or suppress the sexual orientation or gender identity of people. They do that because their consciences tell them that is the right thing to do to save people.   I am sorry but I believe that when the rights of person A not to suffer significant harm conflict with the rights of person B to follow their conscience, that the need to prevent harm always wins out. The situation is not symmetrical. Reading the Gospels, I am pretty certain that Jesus would have agreed with me.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

You know I don’t ‘support’ conversion therapy myself. I believe in the law. If a practice is banned by law, then churches must comply. I believe a socially conservative church has the right to say that gay sex is wrong, and gender transition is mistaken. I believe those are beliefs that can be held in good faith. What do you do? Brainwash them with mind control? Expel them from the Church of England? If you try to impose gay marriage, for example, on socially conservative churches… you will drive them out of the Church of England. I think that’s wrong.… Read more »

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Strange that you think it’s wrong to help someone change their sexuality but fine to help them change their sex.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
1 month ago

What’s wrong is using theology to psychologically pressurise someone to repress the way their brain is sexually attracted and try to change their sexual orientation…

…and equally…

What’s wrong is using theology to psychologically pressurise someone to repress the way their brain experiences gender and try to change their gender identity…

In both cases that is abuse and goes against nature.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Would you support letting a parish refusing to allow an openly gay priest to celebrate the Eucharist at their altar?

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

I was too late to edit this. ‘support letting a parish refuse…’

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

Toby, I believe that a local church community should have choice about whether they want to attend a service with a particular priest. However, as in many cases the church building is centrally owned by the Church of England, I can see eventualities in the future where gay parishioners want to get married in their local Church, and I don’t think a local priest or PCC should have the right to ban an affirming priest coming in to celebrate the marriage (obviously pending law change). As for a gay priest celebrating at their altar, what would be the circumstances where… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

That would lead to no-go churches for certain priests. What would happen if an openly homosexual bishop was appointed to a diocese? Would people refuse to be ordained by him/her? Perhaps they could have a special bishop of their own to look after them. We could just forget about being the church and become a federation of exclusive sects. We’re on the road there already.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

Perhaps an organisation called “Forward in Straight Faith” would keep such people happy.

Swithun
Swithun
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

This sounds like a church approaching the oft-talked about point of ‘collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions’.

A phrase perhaps historically used in sardonic detachment and a knowledge that it will keep ploughing on regardless, but there comes a point when the collapse starts to look real …

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

I should like to see the central Church of England allowing both polarities on this issue, because both positions can be held in good conscience. And then that one central authority would cede discretion and conscience to the local church communities in a distribution of authority, so it operates from grassroots up, and not just top-down. I believe the lesson we need to learn is that we are not ‘exclusive sects’. We are one in Christ. But we need to find our unity in Christ, not in imposed uniformity and the domination of conscience by one group over another. At… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I thought the Donatist heresy was refuted at the beginning of the Fifth Century.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Sadly compromise and respecting right of compromise only works if all the parties to a dispute have the same willingness to follow that path. But if certain parties have a willingness to compromise, and other parties insist on being intransigent, them the intransigent parties obtain an absolute veto on anything they do not like. Charlie’s article simply restates what has been said about the issue for decades. It would have been much more helpful if he had discussed the next necessary stage in the process for synod, deciding how to get out of the impasse and move forward if a… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

How far can these differences of conscience go? Can they extend to not allowing the developmentally disabled to be confirmed, because they are not capable of making a mature decision to do so? Can they extend to not accepting a priest who is a person of color?

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

I agree there are limits, Pat. The examples you mention are not ones that seem to have any traction in the church of England, or ones that divide the Church. Human sexuality does. It needs to be resolved, and I think doing nothing is no longer pastorally sustainable. I believe ‘Unity in Diversity’ is doing something, and would create a bridgehead with more and more local churches exercising a right to publicly affirm (and hopefully marry, if the Law can be changed to reflect a diverse approach. There may be intransigence on both sides, but I believe the vast majority… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I think the problem, as others here have noted, is who gets to decide the “conscience” of a parish? The vicar? The PCC (or on my side of the pond, the vestry)? A referendum of the whole congregation (and who gets to vote in such a referendum–is it based on giving, attendance, or what)? In whatever method is chosen, there will be those whose consciences are still not satisfied…and what happens to them?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa taught that the Bible ‘proved’ that black people were inherently inferior to white people. Should we have advocated compromise on the basis of conscience there? Unless I missed something Charlie Bell doesn’t suggest what a suitable compromise might look like. Gay weddings at St. Margaret’s but not at St. James’, until there is a new incumbent at either when there could be a reverse ferret? Married gay ordinands at Westcott House but not at Ridley Hall? In addition to the separate ordinations for those who will not be tainted by women bishops; another… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Well with regard to the young: at present what we have is a 50-year status quo and logjam, perpetuating the position of the Church as ‘If you are gay or lesbian, you must stay celibate for life.’ Clearly that has had a very negative effect on how young people regard the Church. But in my opinion, if both sides of the sexuality divide insist on *only* their own position being ‘The Church of England’ then we have continuing stand-off, and that does no good whatsoever for the youth. Intransigence will just drag this logjam on and on and on. My… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

You’re absolutely right. Either a priest is a priest is a priest, and we are the local expression of the Catholic Church, or we’re just an association of Congregationalists with pick and mix bishops.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Toby Forward
1 month ago

Congregationalists are also expressions of the catholic (i.e. universal) church.

Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

Bishop Peter Selby’s warning of the possible injustice being meted out to vulnerable clergy has already been justified by the Church’s treatment of Fr. Alan Griffin, which led to the tragedy of a suicide. The case of Dean Percy, which is still in the balance at Christchurch, Oxford, is another case in point; where the action of the Church (or non-action in this case) has led to grievous personal stress on a priest and his family that ought never to have happened – given the reality of the situation. Having, myself, been a target of unjust accusation from a deluded… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

Ref: Church Times The accused have their rights, too “Remedying past failures should not mean repenting at others’ expense, says Peter Selby” Those libelled by false accusation can exercise their right to justice through the courts. Sir Cliff Richard exercised this right, but at a cost – not just financial.  For most of us living, if falsely accused and libelled, this is not an option – there is simply nothing we can do about it. For those no longer living, such as Bishop George Bell, the same applies – you cannot libel the dead.  Former Archbishop George Carey has done something about… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
1 month ago

Having a diversity of views is all very well if you’re in an urban area and can just go to a less toxic church, but rural benefices are large and it only takes one homophobic incumbent to bar huge chunks of the countryside to LGBT Christians who want to attend church.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

It’s a fair concern, Jo. But if you reversed the dominant group, and reversed the status quo, the same problem would exist in reverse. It would take ‘only one gay affirming incumbent to bar huge chunks of the countryside to socially conservative Christians who want to attend church.’ It works both ways, and neither scenario is ideal. Your comment is fair, and it links with T. Potts point (above). Given that equivalence, my view is the best way forward is compromise, so that the overall Church acknowledges both ‘integrities’. I believe that is the best way of moving things on… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Who people are and what people think are not equivalent. All that is required of homophobes in an affirming parish is to not voice their homophobia. LGBT people in homophobic churches are required to hide who they are or suppress it entirely. These are simply not a mirror image in terms of the emotional and spiritual demands placed on the individual. By all means allow individuals to opt out of conducting marriage ceremonies (because who wants to have their marriage “celebrated” by someone who doesn’t share in their joy) but that can’t extend to permitting homophobic policies without causing real… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

But Jo, in the real world, what solution do you propose that will deliver the ends you champion, any time soon? Will LLF deliver? Will General Synod deliver? If not, then what is left except words? In my opinion (and of course, I don’t have a monopoly of wisdom or prediction) the only group with power to deliver degrees of change are: Grassroots local church communities, if they insist on treating LGBT+ people the same as straight people when it comes to public affirmation and celebration in services. Most prefer not to put their heads above the parapets in public… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

Well said Jo, rural communities and their churches are frequently overlooked in these discussions. Your point is also pertinent if the Minster model gains traction. The Minster incumbent could veto inclusivity for miles around. Why LGBTQI Christians should have to settle for crumbs from the straight person’s table is beyond my understanding of the Gospel.

rural liberal
rural liberal
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

and vice versa, the Minster incumbent could veto Traditionalism for miles around. Why Traditionalists – I am not one but still – should have to settle for crumbs from the LGBTQI Christians’ table is beyond my understanding of the Gospel.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Mine too Dean.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

And not just rural communities. The same would apply in any group benefice or team parish. When I was part of a team, the one parish which had passed Resolutions A and B refused to allow the two female priests from other churches in the team to robe or take part in joint services. The same could happen with LGBT clergy. Obviously it’s very difficult to work as a team in such circumstances.

38
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x