Friday, 23 November 2007

A lesbian asks, "Ain't I human?"

In November 2003, V. Gene Robinson was consecrated bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, having been elected by church members to serve as their spiritual leader. The election left the worldwide Anglican Communion divided over the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop; in the U.S. four dioceses have begun the process of leaving the national church.

The question has been four-square in the news. Members of many faiths, often facing their own questions about gay clergy, are carefully watching the issue in the Episcopal Church.

As a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church who is gay, and a postulant for ordination to the priesthood, I was struck by Sojourner Truth's call for justice. She has inspired my perspective on efforts to diminish others.

"Ain't I a woman?"

More than 150 years ago, Truth put that question to the Women's Convention meeting in Akron, Ohio. It was 54 years after she was born; the Emancipation Proclamation was still more than a decade away. It was 69 years before women's suffrage that she would not live to see. In her powerful voice, she was confronting other women about her right to belong - her right to be accepted in the fullness of her being.

"I have borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief none but Jesus heard me. Ain't I a woman?

"Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman!'"

Her lament about her status echoes on - no, it thunders on to this day.

Ain't I a human? Read more
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Illegal abortions still blight UK

Illegal abortions are still taking place in the UK, a BBC undercover investigation has discovered.

Abortion has been legal in Britain for 40 years - woman have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy up to 24 weeks.

But the BBC has discovered pills for getting rid of unwanted pregnancies are readily available on the black market.

The BBC Radio 5 Live Report followed up on internet chat room messages left by women asking for abortion advice. Read more
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ABp Gomez: Clash is over 'nature of reality'

The Anglican church in The Bahamas and worldwide is faced with a serious challenge, and Archbishop Drexel Gomez says he hopes and prays that they find a collective way forward to avoid the route of a split. This came from Gomez during his charge at the recent 107th session of the Synod, at Holy Trinity Conference Centre.

"Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which humans distort God's created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together, to be fruitful and multiply.

"When human beings 'exchange' these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have 'exchanged' the truth about God for a lie."

The Province of the West Indies adheres firmly to this theological position, according to Gomez.

"The diversity of opinions across the Communion has led some persons to conclude the Anglican Communion will have to divide, seeing that those who are convinced that the Gospel is clear in its teaching and must take precedence over culture cannot accommodate those who believe the contrary," he said.

"The split — if it occurs — will be about the most fundamental of all questions: the nature of reality. Which relationships correspond to God's ordering of life, and which violate it? It is clear that the future of the Anglican Communion is unclear at the moment, but there can be no doubt that the future shape of Anglicanism will have to undergo significant adjustments if the Communion is to remain intact" said Gomez. Read more
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Sydney and Indian Ocean Support Actions of Anglican Network in Canada

Read letters of support here.
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Second Canadian bishop breaks with church over gay row

A second Anglican bishop on Thursday deserted his Canadian church to join its more conservative branch in South America following a theological split over homosexuality.

Bishop Malcolm Harding said in a statement he will now minister under Archbishop Gregory Venables and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas, while setting up a parallel church in Canada.

"My heart yearns for revival in Canada and in Anglicanism but I have lost hope for reformation within the Anglican Church of Canada," he said.

"I now realize that we cannot have unity at the expense of truth. I cannot in conscience travel the path that the Anglican Church of Canada is traveling, away from historic Christian teaching and established Anglican practice."

Bishop Harding is the second Canadian bishop to break with the Canadian church to join the newly-formed faction. Read more
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Thursday, 22 November 2007

Bp Ingham: Anglican gay row is 'full-blown schism'

A theological split in the Anglican Church over homosexuality is now a "full-blown schism," a Canadian bishop said Wednesday, ahead of the expected formation of a breakaway body.

Right Reverend Michael Ingham, whose Greater Vancouver diocese became the first Anglican jurisdiction to formally authorize the blessing of same-sex unions in 2002, accused the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas of tearing at the rip by poaching congregations in Canada.

He also blasted the South American faction for planning to ordain two deacons in his diocese in westernmost Canada next month, despite his objections.

"Over many, many centuries the rule has been that there is only one church in one geographical area, so we think it's improper" for anyone to try to set up a parallel Anglican church in Canada, his spokesman Neil Adams told AFP.

"Setting up two rival bodies is not healthy for the Anglican Church."

"Historically, the Anglican Church came from a split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1400s," Adams conceded. "But afterwards it became a big tent church ... open to a wide variety of theologies, and we think that's good and we'd like it to remain that way." Read more
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Conservative Anglicans shun Canada for S. America

As more sections of the Anglican Church of Canada move toward blessing gay marriages, a group of conservative Anglicans has started pulling out of the Canadian organization and putting themselves under the authority of the main Anglican branch in South America.

The first move happened on Friday when retired Bishop Donald Harvey left the Anglican Church of Canada and became a full-time bishop of the more conservative Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas.

On Thursday, he will now outline plans to enable conservative Anglican congregations in Canada to join the Southern Cone under his episcopal oversight.

"Because of the unabated theological decay in the Anglican Church of Canada, many long-time Anglicans have already left their church and left Anglicanism," Harvey said in a statement.

"We want to provide a fully Anglican option -- a safety net -- for others who feel their church has abandoned them and who are contemplating taking the same action."

It echoes similar moves in the United States, and on both sides of the border such actions have prompted sharp protests from the Anglican Church of Canada and the U.S. Episcopal Church against what they regard as unwelcome intrusions onto North American territory. Read more

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Monday, 19 November 2007

Changing Attitude: ABp Williams would have to disinvite patron bishops

See earlier story here.

The Reverend Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:

“If the Archbishop Canterbury is proposing to withdraw invitations to the Lambeth Conference from bishops who are seen as being “pro-gay” (according to the definition of conservative Anglicans) he will have to withdraw the invitation from every bishop who is a patron of Changing Attitude and from every English bishop who has participated in the registration or celebration of a civil partnership for one of their clergy or who have accepted partnered gay clergy in their diocese. There are a significant number of English bishops who quietly support LGBT people contrary to the principles outlined in the Windsor Report. Read more

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Peers and church leaders oppose test-tube baby Bill plan

A coalition of peers and church leaders will launch a campaign today to scupper plans to give lesbian couples the right to have test-tube babies. They will also oppose moves that could lead to the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research.

The Government faces a backlash when the Lords considers the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Critics will speak out against the Bill, marking the start of a parliamentary campaign to wreck it.

Its most contentious proposal would enable lesbian couples to become joint legal parents of children conceived using donated sperm or eggs. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and peers of all parties, are expected to join criticism of the Bill, which was announced in this month's Queen's Speech.

One of the leading opponents of the proposals on test-tube babies, the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, said the Bill would remove the requirement for a father: "Another nail will have been hammered into the coffin of the traditional family. And another blow will have been struck against fatherhood." Read more

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‘Conscientious objector’ idea to ease way for women bishops

Opponents of women bishops could be given “conscientious objector” status similar to that given to pacifists during the two world wars under proposals being considered by legislators in the Church of England.

Campaigners for the ordination of women priests and bishops have drawn up a scheme for their opponents which fits with the “time-honoured way of reconciling those who are unable to go along with a change which is taking place”.

The proposal is being considered by the General Synod’s legislative drafting group established to draw up the new measure to permit the consecration of women to the episcopate, and chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch.

If agreed by the synod, it would pave the way for the first women to be consecrated to the episcopate soon after 2010, the original target date set by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. Read more

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Church of Norway votes in favour of homosexuals in ordained ministry

The Lutheran Church of Norway, with whom the Church of England is in partnership through the Porvoo agreement, voted last Friday to allow members in same-sex partnerships to serve in ordained ministry.

The vote came towards the end of a difficult week of debate on the issue during the Church’s General Synod, held last Tuesday to Saturday.

The Church remains deeply divided over homosexuality, with many feeling that the acceptance of homosexuals in the clergy goes against Scripture.

Last Friday’s compromise vote was testimony to the lack of clear consensus on homosexuals within the Church. While the long-standing absolute ban on employing homosexuals in the clergy has been lifted, the ultimate decision on whether or not to appoint them has been left to individual bishops to make.

Read more

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Diocese of Niagara approves same-sex blessings

2007 Synod of the Diocese of Niagara

Whereas the Diocese of Niagara wishes to express to the House of Bishops and the Council of General Synod the conviction that we believe that God is calling us to move forward now; to wait before the faithful relationships of our gay and lesbian members are blessed by the Church would be unloving and cause further pain and suffering


Whereas the Diocese of Niagara respects and honours those within our Diocese who, because of their theological position or as a matter of conscience, cannot agree with the blessings of same sex unions.

Be it resolved:

That this Synod request the Bishop to allow clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless the duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized, and to authorize rites for such blessings.

Mover: The Reverend Canon Dr. Margaret Murray
St. Matthias, Guelph

Seconder: Ms. Marilyn Robbins
St. James, Dundas

  • Vote on Motion CLERGY:
  • In favour: 82
  • Opposed:13
  • Abstained:
  • Vote on Motion: LAITY
  • In favour: 157
  • Opposed:40
  • Abstained: 2
  • Motion carried - by 81% of combined houses 18% opposed.
  • Bishop Comments: He and Michael will discuss this with the primate later today. Implementation will be looked at in the days ahead.
Read more
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Dr Rowan Williams to target pro-gay bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

In a high-risk strategy, Dr Rowan Williams may even snub them by withdrawing their invitations to next year's Lambeth Conference.

He has told friends he will challenge any bishop he believes is coming to the conference with an agenda "very much at odds" with his attempts to maintain unity in the worldwide Church.

Dr Williams sent invitations in May to most of the Anglican Church's 880 bishops around the world for the once-a-decade showcase gathering in Canterbury. Read more

Update: Changing Attitude now says this would have to include several English bishops, see here.
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Sunday, 18 November 2007

Tutu hits out at Church on attitude to gays

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has strongly criticised the Anglican Church for its stance on homosexuals.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, the Archbishop accused the Church of being “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests, while ignoring pressing global needs such as poverty and HIV.

"Our world is facing problems - poverty, HIV and Aids - a devastating pandemic, and conflict," said Archbishop Tutu, 76.

"God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another.

"In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."

Archbishop Tutu went on to criticise the spiritual leader of the 70-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, of overlooking God’s “welcoming” nature. Read more
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