Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Should Rowan Williams Resign?

This is the article, as I sent it, to the Gay Times. I did not know my opponent was Lesley Crawley, but there you go.

Many Anglicans in England perhaps do not realise to what extent LGBT people are going to be marginalised within the Church of England.

Of course LGBTs are already marginalised, in that anyone outside marriage who expresses their love for one another sexually is excluded from ministry and blessings. This exclusion does not involve those who have been divorced, which should be a biblical prohibition.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is only supposed to be first among peers, and much is honorary. But, like an American President, with the power to persuade, and the use of political levers, he can create power. This Archbishop has shown remarkable skill in leadership in both the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

In 2003 he made his defining move to prevent Jeffrey John, a gay man who claimed a celibate relationship, from taking up the offer of Bishop of Reading. Years later, in 2010, he was intervening again, and this time the unwell Colin Slee kept a record of the encounters he had with the Archbishop. Made public only recently, Slee recorded how a shouting Williams made some committee members in Southwork, proposing Jeffrey John and Nicholas Holtam as their bishop candidates, cry; how a leak took place about these proposals from, apparently, Lambeth Palace; that Lambeth Palace instituted an enquiry (whose findings were made a secret in November 2010). Slee was annoyed that the Archbishop of York addressed Jeffrey John directly that it would do his friends no credit to leak his name, when Colin Slee and others had done no such thing.

If this looks like low political manoeuvring, then the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica in 2009 was where the Archbishop managed to look both ways, confuse people present, and a rejected resolution became something passed rather like it.

This refers to what will make all the difference: the Anglican Communion Covenant. Having there caused a slight revising of the punitive Section 4, he claims, against other judgment, that it is not now punitive. But what is important is that this one person can insist, and gets his way, that this section now stays with the proposed Covenant, and this is what gives it teeth.

The effect of the Covenant is this: anything of controversy to some Anglican Churches, like the viciously homophobic ones in parts of Africa, goes into a process of delay and consideration at the centre of the Communion. To be involved in the conserving outcome, the Anglican Church of any one country must stay in this Covenant. The Archbishop of Canterbury is an Instrument of the Communion, and thus needs to be on board, and he only comes from the Church of England.

So the Church of England cannot do anything that would make the position of this Instrument of Communion in any way compromised. This Church won't have the freedom even to propose changes towards inclusion. This is why the Study Guide for Lent in 2011 was a one way argument: There Is No Alternative.

The adoption of the Covenant really would be the final defeat for all liberal people, whether liberal theologically or socially, in the English Church.

Rowan Williams is a man who once included LGBT people within his theology, but since he has taken on "the job" (as he called it, once, when indicating his change of position) he has reversed the Christian ethic of self-sacrifice into the sacrifice of others to advance his bureaucracy, to create something more of an international Catholic Church where bishops and priests are preserved and hierarchical.

It is not just that he has sold his own soul, but that he seeks to impose his own ethic on every one else. He won't resign, because he is ramming this through: for the Church comes first; but he should be pushed before it is too late.


Mikeb said...

I was in Wales when rowan was archbishop. He was great then, took risks and promoted lgbt issues. In Canterbury he has been disappointing. He has trIed to keep the communion together whilst forgetting that the cofe is independant. He should have stuck with his old inclusive theology and though stuff you to the gafcon type bigots. We were all expecting this sort of radical leadership.

Whilst i agree with you Adrian, who the hell is going to replace him. I fear someone much worse

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I think you'd find James Jones to be better. Coming out of the evangelical camp, he started listening, and he did not follow the herd in voting for the Covenant. It could be ambition, but he is setting himself up as a candidate should the Covenant fail.