Thursday, 24 July 2008

Not the Usual Tramlines But Desperate Stuff

The Archbishop of Sudan's comments on Tuesday could have warranted immediate response, but something about them wasn't quite on the usual tramlines. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul said he was representing his people and about what is not in the Bible.

His central outburst, if that's right, is for Bishop Gene Robinson to resign so that the "Anglican world" can find unity again. As if it is that simple.

The bishops who consecrated him should confess. They had not followed the "norms of the Anglican world". We confess when we make mistakes, and if they did that it would help the Anglican world.

He must realise that this simply is not the viewpoint of the other side. No one is going to confess, because there is no mistake. Bishop Gene Robinson must be under such a spotlight and pressure, but he is supported by his colleagues and so he should be.

Deng Bul would sacrifice Gene Robinson to bring "over 300" (no it's less) "back into the house".

The tramlines aren't quite so usual in that he regarded GAFCON and the Anglican Communion equally regarding their strategies, and yet he is an insider and would want GAFCON back inside. Deng Bul also retains good relations with individual American bishops: it is The Episcopal Church institution that he wants to change, although he also wants Gene Robinson the individual to go and just be a "normal Christian" (which he is now, isn't he?). Apparently he loves the American Church. He thinks he can help them if Gene Robinson resigns.

He cannot predict what will happen if Gene Robinson does not resign.

I think the American Church and others ought to be helping Daniel Deng Bul. It sounds like a last desperate shout for something he cannot have. The likelihood is that in the future more openly gay people will become bishops, and not just in the United States. It is quite wrong to target Gene Robinson as if he is a one off. Something done before in conditions of duplicity and dishonesty has got to be more honest and open, as is the election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson.

Also, when some of us look at Sudan we see a terrible situation, a humanitarian crime and continuing nightmare, and find it surprising that this bishop can even be so bothered with this subject in the face of that nightmare. Well life (for some) still goes on, and we all have our obsessions, but this does seem particularly institutionally obsessive.

If this is the measure of the Communion, with this obsession, then it is split. The problem for insider Deng Bul is that the outsiders that he regards "equally" have formed. It is people like him who will find the future very difficult, because of the choice that is increasingly being forced. His Church does not have to accept openness and honesty regarding sexual identity, and no one is forcing this upon his Church, but some Churches are starting to see the need to tackle some deep-seated discriminations that go against the main thrust of the New Testament message.

1 comment:

Fr Craig said...

P - this is deeply distressing for us here in the Diocese of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) - we just raised around $3mill to send to Kajo Keji (southern Sudan). It would be fair to say that our Dio. is 'liberal' in that we have several openly gay clergy. At the same time, my own parish has supported a specific ministry in Uganda for years - have no idea whether ++ Orombi knows about it or not and, frankly, we don't care. I was stunned by ++Bull's press conference approach - surely this was orchestrated. But to me, our continuation of this ministry in the face of such bigotry is the best witness we can make. Check our website at and click on New Hope