Saturday, 9 August 2008

Bishops back Rowan Williams in gay sex row - even though some don’t agree with him

Nineteen bishops in the Church of England came to the defence of the Archbishop of Canterbury last night and his views on gay sex.

The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, who is the Church’s fourth most senior cleric, headed the list of bishops who signed a letter to The Times protesting at the “gross misrepresentation” of Dr Rowan Williams.

The bishops admit that many among them do not agree with Dr Williams’s contention that a same-sex relationship “might . . . reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage”. But they defend his right to differentiate between his role as theologian and church leader and to uphold “what has been received in faith from scripture and tradition”.

They also defend him against accusations of pragmatism in putting church unity first. The bishops say that his prioritising of church unity over his own beliefs “expresses what Jesus himself taught: the fundamental and deeply biblical teaching on the vital importance of church unity and of working for that unity by humility and mutual submission”.

In an interview with The Times, Dr Wright said last night that bishops were concerned that statements made eight years ago by Dr Williams in private correspondence should not be regarded as news.

He said: “To put it out as news just two days after the Lambeth Conference appears to be trying to scupper the whole Lambeth process. We are insisting that the Lambeth process was a good process and we do not want it to be damaged.” Read more
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Friday, 8 August 2008

'Back to Church Sunday' 2008 resource pack published

Even if your church is not doing 'Back to Church Sunday' (we're not this year) you might find the pack useful. It can be downloaded as a pdf here.

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LORD TEBBIT: If the head of our church can't uphold the standards that shaped us, what hope is there?

Who am I to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matters of theology, doctrine or what the scriptures mean? After all, I am not a fully paid-up member of the Church of England.

I am, however, a 'fellow traveller' and it is fellow travellers, whether of political parties or churches, whose opinions should be listened to most carefully by the powers that be. If the politicians or bishops offer confident, reasonable leadership, we follow them. If they look lost, confused and out of touch, we leave in droves.

Dr Rowan Williams is a decent, likeable and intelligent man. But over homosexuality, he seems to be in a terrible muddle, saying different things to different people. Just days after the Anglican Church agreed to call a halt to ordaining gay bishops, a debate in which he sided with the conservative majority, earlier private letters have emerged in which he equates gay sexual relationships to heterosexual marriage.

These letters show that his private views may be rather different and considerably more liberal. And as a result, many of his fellow travellers, I'd assume, are confused as to what their spiritual leader really believes. Read more

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Lambeth: What happened? No one quite knows

THERE was no great jostling to be the first to comment on the Lam­beth outcome: an acknowledge­ment, perhaps, that the 42-page Reflections document needed much more than a superficial glance.

GAFCON’s response was a brief press statement that read: “The Primates’ Council of GAFCON will wish to study the outcome of the Lambeth Conference carefully and consult with those they are leading. They are meeting towards the end of August and will make their response following that meeting.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who also boycotted the Conference, was slightly more expansive. “We have been praying for the Lambeth Conference, and now that it has ended we look forward to talking with those who were there. It seems it has fulfilled the desires of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and we also look forward to hearing from him,” a statement on Monday said.

It continued: “Our absence focused minds on the problems within the Communion and spoke louder than our presence would have. However, the issues which have caused such division are still before us and require decisive action so that the mission of the Church will not be further impaired.”

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that many bishops had come to the gathering “in fear and trembling, expecting either a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been just the opposite,” she said. Read more

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Five million quid down the drain as Lambeth Conference ends

Well, that was a waste of everyone's time. The Archbishop of Canterbury's spin doctors may pretend that the £5 million Lambeth Conference was an unexpected success because the 650 bishops didn't actually come to blows. Oh, please.

Was the Lambeth Conference really a success?

I'll tell you what was an unexpected success: the Gafcon meeting of anti-gay conservatives in Jerusalem, which managed to keep well within the boundaries of the Anglican Communion even though 230 of its bishops boycotted Lambeth.

Gafcon put the wind up the Lambeth bishops so thoroughly that most of them were more than happy to shift the blame for the troubles of the Anglican Communion on to gay-ordaining American Episcopalians. And, in the absence of votes, they didn't have to put their hands up in order to do so. They just vaguely assented to a smorgasbord of "structures" dreamt up by Rowan and his allies which are targeted at liberals but which will take years to come into force – by which time the Episcopal Church will be marrying and consecrating every gay and lesbian it can lay its hands on.

Rowan's cheerleaders were ready to declare the conference a triumph of statesmanship when Jonathan Wynne-Jones broke the story in the Sunday Telegraph that two senior bishops – Winchester and Exeter – were asking Dr Williams to organise a peaceful separation between the "core Communion" and the liberal fringe. Indeed, Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester explicitly said that Rowan's "covenant" scheme was unlikely to work. Read more
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Irish Independent: Liberal dogmatism killing Church unity

LIBERALS are fond of brow-beating the Churches about sectarianism and disunity. These twin evils, they say with some justification, are harmful to society because they set one group against another and because sectarianism is, at the very least, uncivil.

It now transpires that all this liberal bleating about sectarianism and disunity was exactly that, bleating. But it was also hypocritical because when it suits their agenda liberals are very inclined to use sectarian language of their own and have no hesitation adding to the already deep divisions between the Churches.

The Anglican Communion, of which our own Church of Ireland is a part, has just finished its once-a-decade Lambeth meeting in England which gathers together all the Primates of the Anglican world.

Or at least it should gather them all. But this one didn't. Fully a quarter of Anglican bishops stayed away from the event because liberal Anglicans have plunged their Communion into a crisis over the issue of homosexual clergy.

The Church of England itself is also in crisis because of its recent decision to ordain women bishops.

For liberals this is a matter of principle. Equality is equality. If men can be made bishops, then why not women? Likewise, if sexually active heterosexuals can be made priests and bishops, then why not sexually active homosexuals as well? The questions are unanswerable, once you absolutise equality. Read more
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