Tuesday, 9 February 2010

++ Rowan at his best.

The ABC's opening address to the English Synod is (for once) something I can largely agree with. See it at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2752 Gone is his usual obfuscation: it is a clear, subtle and nuanced analysis of the state of play we find ourselves in as a communion. Credibly, he describes LGBT rights as marks of a civilised society and describes the Ugandan legislation as "repugnant". He also points to the inherent tension between the American advances on orders and same sex relationships and the needs of the Church in the developing world to be free to witness without the accusation of being part of a moral threat to society (for that's how an LGBT friendly Church looks in some countries). There is a tension here between two conflicting good aims. But realistically, I very much doubt if the TEC will go back to the "gracious restraint" they practiced for 3 years, given that the conservative faction kept on getting African Bishops to interfere across diocesan and Provincial boundaries. The temper of the Church is (I suspect ) equally agin too much provision for the opponents of women priests. Last time around, Parliament insisted on compensation. I suspect neither a New Labour or a Cameroon Govt will make any such demands given the significant numbers who left, taking the money only to return when they found the ecclesiastical culture over the Tiber not to their taste. They actually mean what they say about obedience and that is not something FiF clergy are used to, either temperamentally or experientially.

I don't agree with his stance on the Equalities Bill - but he is right to urge caution about letting the Executive and legislature become too much the moral police of society. It was a bad mistake under Thatcher and likely to be worse, were British politics to take a radical swing to the Right. He also makes the nice Tractarian point about the Church being the right body to police its moral policies, give that it is a body which no one is compelled to join - but when you do you implicitly accept it's authority within boundaries to make pronouncements and decide policies which reflect it's understanding of the implications of the Gospel. Your Grace, I broadly agree with you - but you should have said this in November!


  1. it is a body which no one is compelled to join

    That may be true in many provinces, but in England Anglicanism is the national church. I didn't join the Church of England, I was born into it. Therefore, it cannot operate as a sect. If it wishes to remain established it has a responsibility to the wider culture, and has to listen to and reflect that culture. It cannot just say like it or lump it.

  2. Yes, but you actually have to make a conscious choice upon reaching the age of discretion as to whether or not you remain in it, or move elsewhere or simply worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster instead. The key is "if it wishes to remain established" Tractarian freedom works best in a non-established set up. The days of High and Dry Tory privilege for the Church are past no matter what his beardiness and Co think.

  3. But that is contracting out, not contracting in. That changes the dynamics and makes the C. of E. more responsible for the existing pastoral needs of its flock, including pre-existing factors such as being gay.

  4. True: if you want to be like the Nigerians, step off the establishment train!