Monday, July 21, 2008

Lambeth (2)

July 21, 2008

After the Bishops’ retreat of the past few days ‘public’ Lambeth got underway yesterday. The English press had quite a variety of opinion in their reporting. The Independent saw a church that was being united successfully by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Times and Guardian were more inclined to point out things like the Archbishop clapping out of time to music and leaving through the wrong door and the like.

The Bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Right Rev Duleep de Chickera gave what was clearly an ‘inclusive’ sermon at the personal invitation of the ABofC. Later Rowan Williams gave a Presidential address that is worth reading in its entirety:

Most public commentators agreed that there were little or no signs that the Episcopal Church would be sanctioned or excluded from the communion. The absence of conservatives was bemoaned by all and sundry.

I’m unsure where I stand at the moment between ‘allowing new patterns of ministry to emerge within the communion’ (as in boundary crossings by bishops and congregations in search of congeniality and theological homogeneity) and continuing to uphold the organizing principle of Anglicanism as geographical with unity expressed in terms of communion with a bishop however flawed we might believe that bishop to be. I hear the pain of those who feel that homosexuality is deeply wrong. I have been there myself on an intuitive and visceral level. I do not think that pain means that we have a legitimate claim to have won an argument. In the end I was not persuaded by conservative claims about scripture, and was persuaded both by the official medical community and by members of my own parishes that my deep feelings related to taboo (which is not the same as sin) and could be defined reasonably as unholy prejudice. I do not think that Tanzania or Sydney have to change their mores on the same time frame as the U.S. (and maybe never). The English Church is only now putting in place the processes that will lead to women being consecrated as bishops in that branch of the church and we seem to be managing. Why can the same not be the case with regard to the ministry of homosexual people? The argument that it is contrary to scripture is essentially the same argument made against Copernicus and Galileo is it not?

I continue to pray daily for all bishops and those I know personally by name. I urge you to do the same. I am not disheartened by the news so far and hope that is true for Anglicans of all stripes who value our tradition.

No comments: