The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, displayed his bravery by going into the closet. Williams presided over a ‘secret’ Eucharist for the Clergy Consultation, a lesbian and gay group of Anglican clergy. The brave Archbishop was so proud over what he had to say to the group, that the event had to be moved to another location to avoid media scrutiny. Secrecy was so tight that a list of names attending was sent to Lambeth Palace with orders that it be shredded as soon as he had read it. Nothing like the courage of your convictions.
At the service, in London, he gave a talk on “present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the church.” Williams states that his attendance at the event is just part of a “listening process.” In reality, it is part of a normalization process. Step by step, removing the stigma of sin and promoting acceptance of the gay lifestyle.
In a joint statement Dr Richard Turnbull, chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council and Dr Philip Giddings, Convenor of the evangelical group Anglican Mainstream, said:
“Every occasion for listening pastorally to people is to be welcomed. “However, the Holy Communion is a fundamental symbol of fellowship and an expression of our unity in Christ.” To offer this to those in gay partnered relationships went contrary to biblical teaching and to the teaching by the bishops themselves in their document Issues in Human Sexuality, they said.
Their statement continued: “The bishop as upholder of the Apostolic faith is held by all Anglicans to provide a focus of unity. Since the Archbishop has apparently proceeded with this service, this makes it more likely that he will become a focus of division.”
Ruth Gledhill of the Times Online thinks that the Archbishop of Canterbury has made his decision on which way he will come down on these issues and is tacking left.
I believe this all indicates that Rowan might at last be starting to reclaim his liberal roots. A source tells me that Gene Robinson is definitely coming to Lambeth, accompanied by his partner Mark. Gene will be doing a seminar. He and Mark will have been ‘married’ in a civil ceremony a few days earlier, on the symbolic 4 July. Lambeth will thus be their ‘honeymoon’.
This does not bode well for the Anglican Communion or for Anglican/Catholic Relations. Cardinal Kasper,President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, does not pull any punches in his assessment of the goings on.
The Cardinal said: ‘While we in old matters of controversy we try to overcome old divisions, presently in ethical questions new divisions open up. This applies in particular to the protection of life, to marriage and the family, and issues of human sexuality. The joint public testimony is thereby weakened or impossible. The internal crisis for the churches is most evident in the Anglican community, but not only there.’
Most evident indeed.