Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 20 November 2021

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Ghana, Synod & the “Othering” of LGBTQI People

Giles Fraser UnHerd Don’t blame the Church for terrorism

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Is it sometimes good to change one’s mind? A question at General Synod.

Helen King sharedconversations General Synod: feeling the weight of the Church of England

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
52 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Susannah Clark
13 days ago

Superb article by Charlie Bell. “At some point someone is going to have to take some responsibility.” Quite. And if it’s not Synod, if it’s not the Bishops, it’s going to have to be grassroots church communities. My priest already did, saying “I can do no other, how can I treat your relationship differently to ” and taking our legal piece of paper and marrying us (before God and the congregation and 100 friends) anyway. The Bishop looked the other way. In the end, if the Bishops and Synod can’t sort it (and on the basis of the Synod election… Read more »

Kate
Kate
13 days ago

I am so pleased that Charlie Bell has raised the plight of Intersex people in the Ghanaian bill so strongly.

Father David
Father David
13 days ago

In today’s Times Matthew Parris has written an article entitled “Anglicanism was never really about God”. Does the first meeting of the newly elected General Synod bear this out?

Tim Chesterton
13 days ago

I couldn’t agree more with Charlie Bell.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
13 days ago

Great commentary by Mr. Bell. I continue to feel there are too many Christian churches, across the denominational spectrum, who want LGBTQI people in the pews on their knees in utter sorrowfulness for their sinful state — as long as their hands are outstretched with cash or credit card(s) for the offering plate or basket. Certain provinces love to hit Northern Hemisphere accepting churches with the line of “You taught us homosexuality and/or gender variance was wrong, we accepted it — and now you’ve changed your mind?” That is a loaded question with a nuanced response needed. But at a… Read more »

Dave
Dave
13 days ago

Not, I know, the main point in Charlie Bell’s article, but nevertheless a one taking notice of “it is simply not possible in a post-colonial world to have an Englishman who is both Primate of All England and the ‘focus of unity’ worldwide. It is startlingly obvious, and yet we lack the vision and faith to reimagine the communion for the twenty-first century.” The Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed by and must give allegiance to the Queen of England. Thereby excluding many worthy people of the Anglican Communion from ever being Archbishop of Canterbury. How can it be said that… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Dave
12 days ago

The Current Lord Mayor of the City of London, I understand, has only an Irish passport. He still swore allegiance to the Queen on 13 November, although apparently the rules dictate that the Lord Mayor is a British citizen. It’s amazing how flexible the establishment can be when it wants to.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Bravery
12 days ago

I get the feeling from afar, that some in the C of E have the same ambiguous feeling toward the Anglican Communion as many in France have toward la Francophonie. So, good to have your comment. The consequences of simple solutions to complex problems can be immense. If England or Canada or TEC or Scotland were to either leave The Communion or be ‘de-fellowshipped’ as the result of ‘realignment’ ( think Anglican Covenant for instance) then pro LGBTQI voices in culturally conservative places currently in The Communion would be even more marginalized. There is also the very difficult task of… Read more »

cjcjc
cjcjc
Reply to  Dave
11 days ago

Her Majesty stands above, and is wholly independent of the UK Government, is she not?
The fact that the Archbishop is not a “focus of unity” is alas for all of us entirely his own fault.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  cjcjc
11 days ago

The Queen is not wholly independent. She has to do what the government of the day tell her as we saw with the recent prorogation of parliament which was in fact illegal. Monarchy is also not without influence and has influenced laws which have made their taxes etc less burdensome for example. The Anglican Communion was not set up for the ABC to have influence and control and reflects the colonial times which were in full swing in the mid 19th Century. How relevant it now is is debateable. I’m not sure the ABC is a focus of unity here… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
11 days ago

There will be a lot of toppling when HMQ dies. Interesting times.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
10 days ago

Yes there will. Not before time in my view. These are indeed interesting times.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
11 days ago

I am glad that you have made the analogy between the Commonwealth and the Anglican Communion. Two peas from the same post-colonial pod. The monarch, as you will know, is ‘head of the Commonwealth’, and a symbol of unity for an organisation that has little unity (or meaning). The title was dreamt up by the Commonwealth Relations (formerly Dominions) Office in 1949 (by Philip Noel-Baker, Percivale Liesching and Archibald Carter). Nehru had notified the other Commonwealth premiers that India wished to become a republic, so some formula needed to be created to save royal, and British, amour-propre (the title of… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
11 days ago

I should add that the engagement between Michael Ramsey and Paul VI, ARCIC (Bernard Pawley, Henry Chadwick, etc.) accelerated the regrettable Vaticanisation of Lambeth. If Lambeth posed as the apex of a ‘worldwide communion’ of 70m plus Anglicans it would give the Church of England greater bargaining power in its dealings with Rome. However, Rome saw through the ruse almost instantly. In the eyes of successive popes the Anglican Communion is an extremely loose confederation of highly autonomous or autocephalous churches, with the expression ‘Anglican’ having as much, or as little, meaning as ‘orthodox’ has for the eastern rite churches,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Froghole
11 days ago

Interesting comment. May I make three observations. (1) A good case can be made that the office of the ABC morphed into ‘over reach’ as a ‘focus of unity’ from what was previously a kind of cultural and ‘heritage moment’ line of descent motif i.e. churches/provinces being ‘in communion’ ( an amorphic notion in many ways) with the historic see of Canterbury. If that is what you are arguing, I would not disagree. (2) You raise the matter of ecumenism and the papacy. One wonders these days just how much of a ‘focus of unity’ the occupant of the chair… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rod Gillis
10 days ago

Many thanks indeed for this, Archdeacon! It seems to me that one of the chief differences between the RCC and the Church of England (and maybe other Anglican churches as well) is that dissension within the RCC is largely buried (when if sometimes hidden within plain sight) whereas within the Church of England it is very much out in the open. Synodical government within the Church of England permits disputes to be advertised and winnowed in public (although the public is seldom interested, and that very ‘openness’ also permits much else to be concealed). At present we have a pope… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Froghole
10 days ago

Your observation about the openness of dissent in the C of E seems well taken. The same could be said, for instance, about dissent in Canada. ( but a story about Rome below). However, I would caution that even in comparatively more open polities there is always ‘on stage’ and ‘back stage’. This is particularly true of bishops. They see themselves as a ministry of unity –a link between the local church (diocese) and the wider church. The notion of a ‘monarchical’ episcopate is in increasing tension with an evolving synodical polity depending on where one looks in The Communion.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rod Gillis
10 days ago

Thank you so much for this. My understanding is that Benedict XVI was in sympathy with Vatican II for several years, having been associated closely with Rahner and Küng, but took a sharp turn to the Right after 1968 (a not uncommon reaction for that time), as if he had dipped his toe in the radical water, and then pulled back up the beach. Naturally, he had to trim his more reactionary sails under Paul VI and his two successors. Also, under John Paul II it seems that some of the spirit of Vatican II was hollowed out: the more… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Froghole
10 days ago

Discussion about Vatican II and the role of technical advisors like Ratzinger and Kung et al got me wondering about the matter of theological advisors to C of E bishops, and in particular the matter of advisors to The Archbishop of Canterbury in his various roles. I’m wondering who or what type of expert advice might be utilized around questions of sexuality? One wonders what kind of advice may have been available with regard to the Ghana controversy–the Archbishop’s interjections having been so mercurial. Is the current occupant of the chair of Augustine a person inclined to seek out or… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Froghole
10 days ago

Froghole, you write: “The Vatican committed the cardinal error of continuing to flatter archiepiscopal amour-propre, perhaps to smooth relations between the RCC and the state in England.” I’m not sure this was a cardinal error from a Roman perspective at a time when anti Rome sentiment was endemic among my parent’s generation even up to the higher echelons of state. It was also a time when the Catholic tradition of the C of E was not the husk it is today. When the obits are written for Anglo-Catholicism, it might be said that the movement at least helped to make… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Allan Sheath
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Allan Sheath
10 days ago

Many thanks, Mr Sheath! It was a ‘cardinal error’ from the perspective of the Church of England in that it simply encouraged Lambeth’s vanity! Another analogy is with parliament. As the empire disappeared parliament could no longer continue the pretence that it was the cockpit of the world. How was it to compensate itself? Well, a good place to start would be by eviscerating local government (courtesy of the Redcliffe-Maud report and Peter Walker’s 1974 Act) and centralising administration to an almost ludicrous extent. In much the same way Lambeth’s influence over the churches in the erstwhile empire evaporated and… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Froghole
10 days ago

Was it really what the Peter Simple column in the Daily Telegraph (i.e. the commentator Michael Wharton) used to call “the infamous Heatho-Walkerian reform” that destroyed local government? Or was it more the lack of reform of the tax-base as property rates became increasingly incapable of supporting local government, and councils all began to rely on the rate support grant, so that they became totally beholden to the whims of central government?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
10 days ago

Many thanks! “…was it more the lack of reform of the tax-base…” Might it have been the other way around: that it was central government intervention which compromised the rates? The Treasury was, inevitably, neurotic about local authorities weighing upon the national debt (as in Argentina), especially when – as in much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there were huge war debts to clear. Grants only appeared from 1835 to reimburse local authorities for that part of their spending which was devoted to ‘national purposes’ (such as policing and the courts), and then George Goschen created the assigned revenue… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
10 days ago

I should add that the adverse electoral reaction to re-rating in 1956-63 (after a 22 year long gap) was such that it played a major role in the decision by Reginald Maudling in 1963 to abolish Schedule A of the income tax (the tax on the ‘imputed rent’ derived from owner occupation), which was also based on quinquennial valuations which ceased in 1939: this was possibly the single most important fiscal/economic change of the last century, and one with disastrous socio-economic consequences for succeeding generations. Some of the parallels between local government finance and the economic relations between parish, diocese… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Froghole
peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
11 days ago

“The Queen is not wholly independent. She has to do what the government of the day tell her” — but everyone can admire her Corgis. These days, a Henry VIII wouldn’t be tolerated. And we can probably thank God for that. As someone outside the UK, it is my impression that, from at least the 1700s onward, any remaining power the monarch has is best kept as theoretical, because the moment the monarch tries to use it, Parliament may take it away. According to one historical TV series on Queen Victoria, for example, she couldn’t even hire her own household staff… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
10 days ago

The monarchy has become little more than an expensive soap opera recently. There have also been revelations about deals done with Parliament to protect money, exempt land and property from taxes and generally feather the family nest. The lack of BAME staff, for example, except at very menial levels, did surprise some people. A symbol of unity only works when it gives the appearance of not working the systems for its own ends and having a function. Even the corgis had a side to them – I think there were a few bites and nips along the way. I think… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  cjcjc
11 days ago

It is simply not true that if a leader is not liked/supported by all sides it is their own fault.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Runcorn
11 days ago

Manchester United Football Club have just sacked a manager who wasn’t getting results and had lost the support of fans. In all honesty, in almost any other organisation, the future of the present Archbishop of Canterbury would be looking very fragile.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Runcorn
11 days ago

Justin Welby has apologised recently to Ghanaian homophobes, to Jewish people after comparing climate change to the holocaust and for besmirching George Bell’s reputation. Upsetting people on all sides is entirely his own fault.

M Evans
M Evans
Reply to  FrDavidH
10 days ago

Or perhaps the fault of those who advise him on every single word he says. As long as image-management and reputation-protection companies like Luther Pendragon are on the payroll, we will hear very few senior people’s honest opinion. And Jesus won’t get a look-in at all.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavidH
10 days ago

I know leaders get it wrong. But those they are expected to lead can also get it wrong with our misguided demands and unrealistic expectations and unforgiving responses. ‘Entirely’? Is it ever? Really? So no,I don’t accept the notion that no one else has any responsibility in this business of being unified.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 days ago

I don’t understand the notion that if the Archbishop of Canterbury says something stupid, I must take some responsibility.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  FrDavidH
10 days ago

Can I ask.. do you have something against the Archbishop? Yes – he has had to apologise. He is not infallible. But I am constantly realising the error of my ways and trying to make amends. It feels like the archbishop is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I wonder if a more gracious and tolerant approach might be to be more constructive and allow him to discern the challenge of trying to keep a diverse communion together and to stand for justice for all. It seems impossible to an outsider, but being open and honest and… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
10 days ago

I have no less tolerance towards Justin Welby than I do towards our Prime Minister who, admittedly, is unable to apologise for anything. Both are in positions of leadership. Presumably if Boris Johnson enacts unjust policies, we must show gracious tolerance. Or we could vote him out. No one forced Justin Welby to undertake his difficult role. I don’t believe it is ungracious to question if he’s in the right job.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  FrDavidH
10 days ago

I think you are confusing vocation and election. You cannot compare the two.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
10 days ago

Boris had a vocation to be “world king” when a young boy. I don’t see why the word ‘vocation’ applies only to religious jobs.

cjcjc
cjcjc
Reply to  Dave
11 days ago

PS if there are some parts of the “post colonial world” who retain primitive attitudes to gay people, and indeed actively seek to persecute them (us), then we shall simply have to accept that “unity” is not possible.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  cjcjc
11 days ago

‘…then we shall simply have to accept that “unity” is not possible.’
 
Agreed Jesus didn’t seem to worry too much about unity if it was in opposition to doing or saying the right thing.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 days ago

The high priestly prayer in John 17 is about truth, unity, and holiness. We’ve always had problems holding all three together. Maybe that’s why Jesus prayed about it!

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  cjcjc
11 days ago

To be honest, primitive attitudes might be an improvement (plenty of “primitive” cultures have been supportive and welcoming of LGBT+ folk). What they have is the attitudes of “civilised” countries 70 years ago. No, this homophobia and transphobia isn’t “primitive” or “civilised”, it’s just wrong.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  cjcjc
11 days ago

I think the story is the other way around. There is extensive documented evidence from all parts of the world that “primitive” peoples in pre-colonial cultures often had very positive attitudes to gay people, and to other people with all sorts of gender diverse traits and behaviours. Sadly when such cultures were weakened by the varied effects of colonialism – slavery, disease, hunger, genocide – it was Christianity that was able to slot itself into the cultural vacuum and export its own message of homosexual persecution. Whether unity is possible is a moot point, but we should not blame African… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Dawson
11 days ago

While I have read that many pre-colonial cultures (that’s a good neutral phrase, thank you) or indigenous cultures were affirmative or tolerant towards sexual or gender variance, let us acknowledge that human cultures can be quite diverse in their approach to different issues, and therefore there may have been pre-colonial or indigenous cultures that did not accept sexual or gender variance. I have heard that there are some Native American tribes, for example, that resent their practices being used as examples of GLBT acceptance or tolerance, because those tribes consider the issue to be taken out of context of the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
10 days ago

Peter, I agree with everything you say here. These are incredibly complex and difficult issues, and we have to negotiate a very difficult path if we are to inform ourselves as Christians about these issues, whilst being sensitive to the feelings and needs of those many cultures who have suffered under European Christian colonialism.

Your second paragraph is especially important.

Best wishes.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
10 days ago

Absolutely true – First Nations are making us face the genocide brought about in so called Christian schools run by the churches across recent times. The mass graves found in Canada and now being looked for in the US are heart breaking and all in the name of Empire and religion. Truly awful.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
10 days ago

Peter, Just to add to my reply to your post, I have just watched a youtube video and think it worth sharing here, as it is very much in the spirit of your comments It is the inaugural lecture by Adriaan van Klinken, Professor of Religion and African Studies at Leeds University, under the title “Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa”. Adriaan explores modern movements to challenge African Christianity from various African Queer perspectives. It is a fascinating and surprisingly joyful message, and well worth an hour of anybody’s time if they want to get a more nuanced picture of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
10 days ago

“we should not blame African people for following the Christian message that we ourselves taught them.” I’m afraid that is getting close to the racism of low expectations. Some people in 19th century Britain held views on homosexuality we now view as abhorrent. Those views are no longer accepted in Britain today, because as a country and a society we have grown and improved. The argument that African countries are, however, incapable of that growth and improvement is assuming that they lack the powers of introspection, repentance and growth that we claim for ourselves. Another attitude of 19th century Britain… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
12 days ago

The Charlie Bell piece is insightful with regard to the continued marginalization of LGBTQI communities. I agree with his second point, bound up with his analysis, that the Anglican Communion is “broken” in the sense of a political crisis Communion wide. However with respect, I think the issue goes far beyond whether or not a bishop in the C of E i.e. The office of ABC, can be a focus of unity. Who or what would be an alternative focus? A bishop from Canada? TEC? Hong Kong? GAFCON? I would add that a more courageous C of E leadership, one… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 days ago

Very insightful comment, Rod – thank you. It made me think of the other ‘tradition’ I belong to – the world of traditional folk music, which manages to thrive and evolve without any central legislative body, but has gathered a powerful community all around the world, based around the simple central idea of receiving music from the past, staying loyal to it, but also adapting it for new audiences in new places.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 days ago

Indeed. I think the largest constituency in the Canadian Church favours working at trying to keep The Communion together on some sort of basis. One notes the work of the Mothers’ Union, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, and post colonial style mission partnerships as instances. However, the availability now of same sex marriage in Canadian dioceses, the fact that some clergy (including bishops) are in same sex marriages, means Lambeth resolution 98:101 is moot. That ship has sailed. However, we are and continue to be an ecclesial body solidly grounded in Anglican tradition.

Father Ron Smith
11 days ago

Rod Gillis reminds us that (quote) “…a C of E in a Communion where the ‘focus of unity’ has been shifted elsewhere will have virtually no leverage to apply on behalf of LGBTQI communities globally.” – (uquote). This has been borne out in the facts issuing from the ‘Ghana Anti-Gay Church’ situation. Because Ghana – like each of the ‘Global South/GAFCON’ fraternity have already schucked off filial ties with Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference – there is much less focus on the ABC as ‘Primus-inter-pares’ of the Anglican Communion – a situation dating back to he forming of the relationships… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Father Ron Smith
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
10 days ago

The Anglican Communion is not a federation nor in the strict sense a confessional family. A touchstone used to be communion with the see of Canterbury, participation in the Lambeth Conference and sacramental communion among its clergy and bishops. The ACC and the Primates Meetings have attempted to give some degree of interdependence but it has all worn very thin and diversity esp in the C of E is very great and the commitment to Provincial Autonomy very strong. Much energy was expended on the Covenant but that proved unacceptable to most. I just wonder how much thinking is going… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Perry Butler
9 days ago

Perhaps, Perry, the idea of LLF (Living in Love and Faith) could be constructed to impart a more open and tranformative energy – pursuing the traditional ‘Anglican Way’ of diversity and provincial autonomy, by announcing to the world our determination to live out the way of the Gospel of Jesus, whose ministry of openness to ALL people gave rise to the redemption of those who look to the righteousness of Christ – rather than their own ‘righteousness’ – for salvation. Jesus’ ‘love of sinners’ was what the fundamentalist, self-righteous ones of His day could not abide, and he paid the… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Father Ron Smith
52
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x